“Love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
What does redemption mean to you? Do you operate in a reality where vindication is a necessary aspect to the human experience? Or is redemption an unrealistic and unattainable action? Honestly, my view on redemption has changed significantly over the years. I believed in the idea of redemption but when faced in personal experiences where I could practice this redemptive love that Martin Luther King Jr spoke of, I internally thought my situation was different or the person involved was not capable of redemption.
Over time, I witnessed people around me fully embrace and practice the act of redemption. They felt the love and acceptance around them, that in turn allowed them to believe that redemption was possible. That they could overcome the shame, the mistakes, the hurt, the doubt and the unworthiness.
Watching someone fully bear their raw truth, without shame, but instead with gratitude for knowing they overcame, is a miracle to witness. Knowing that old mistakes or old identities no longer needed to be with them. There is freedom and peace in the process of redemption and forgiveness.
Forgiveness and redemption are central aspects of recovery and salvation. They are two sides of the same coin. Though I didn’t intellectually understand the capacity of these principles initially, I did once I practiced and experienced them. The idea of learning to forgive myself and others around me, freed me from a heavy burden that I was not even aware I was carrying around. Lewis B. Smedes says it well, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
What holds us back from practicing redemption and forgiveness? Is it the lack of willingness to forgive, rooted in the disbelief of redemption? Or is it a comfort that we find when we sit in the familiar states of anger, hate and victimhood? Or is it because we live in a society that no longer seems to value redemption and has replaced it with a form of cancel culture? All I know is that in my personal experience of not forgiving, I became overcome with resentments, anger, hurt and bitterness. The process ultimately closed my heart to the possibility of hope and forgiveness.
I think we can all recall a situation where forgiveness did not seem possible, or deserving. But we are all given the opportunity to operate in a world of compassion, understanding, forgiveness and with a deep seeded belief that redemption is a powerful act of the human experience. Not only powerful, but necessary. Without redemption, we collectively deny each other the natural state of the human experience.
With Love & Forgiveness,