Recently, I heard this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., given in a sermon (on Loving Our Enemies) at Christmas, 1957. He wrote it from Jail.
we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
Lately, I have found that the person I am least apt to forgive is myself. I self-flagellate for every little error.
- I know that a certain event would have been better if I had been more diligent in its organization. But since I procrastinated, it was half as good and people receive half the impact. I tear myself up for it.
- I speak appropriate reflection and mindfulness … and consequently, without tact, love, compassion, empathy, etc. I walk away. I feel the relationship is less than it could be. I am relentless in chastising myself.
- I realize how many things to which I have given my word (great missional things like being the spiritual head of my household or taking my family on a mission trip, or just loving a neighbor) and failed to keep my word. I am a fraud and can’t stand it.
- I respond (for the ump-teenth time) to my child’s behavior with furious rage instead of empathetic discipline. I see myself so clearly. I recognize how ugly I am and my lack of progress … and I hate myself.
In all these cases, I eventually recover and I try to clean up messes with others where I can. But in reality, there is much work left undone because I can humble myself and ask forgiveness of others, I cannot seem to forgive myself. And I think Martin Luther King, JR. is right; if I devoid of the power to forgive, I am devoid of the power to love … and in this case, that means I am devoid of the power to love myself.
This is a tough road. And it’s the road I’m on.