I spend too much time regretting mistakes and moments of weakness in my past. My twenties were filled with too much drinking and too many boyfriends. My thirties were defined by unfulfilled potential. My forties, so far, have had too many less-than-ideal mommy moments.
Yet in the midst of all my failings, I also managed to get two engineering degrees and a MBA. After school, I held many corporate positions, including a high-pressure one at Apple. I’ve traveled the world engaging in missions to help those less privileged. I run a women’s ministry that hopefully provides an opportunity for women to build their faith. I also married an amazing man and I’m raising three wonderful and adorable children.
My hope is that the good I do isn’t outweighed by the bad I did.
It was only a few years ago that I became aware that Martin Luther King, Jr. was widely known to have numerous affairs and had committed plagiarism in many of his writings and speeches. As I learned this, the person explaining this to me dismissed him and all of his teachings because of these transgressions. His dismissal of MLK saddened me in the moment and continues to haunt me still.
I admit I am too ignorant of MLK and his teachings, but what I do know of him continues to astound and inspire me. The obstacles he faced, the hatred, humiliation, and abuse he endured was truly unfathomable. His courage and perseverance was immense. His goals and vision are some of the loftiest this world has ever known.
“The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.”― Martin Luther King, Jr.
After studying the life of MLK, Philip Yancey says in his book Soul Survivor, “I better understand now the pressures that King faced his entire adult life, pressures that surely contributed to his failures. King’s moral weaknesses provide a convenient excuse for anyone who wants to avoid his message, and because of those weaknesses some Christians still discount the genuineness of his faith.”
I think this is a tragedy. I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t face the consequences of their misconduct. But instead of letting our failures define us or others, let us accept them, move past them, and let them lead us to learn and grow into better people.
It took me five long years of not dating to be truly prepared to find the right husband. I needed that time to learn more about myself, so I could better understand what kind of man would make a good life-long partner for me. It’s taken me ten years to build up the courage to face my fears and try new ventures like writing. I have to be willing to overcome uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy. And it will be a life-long journey to learn how to parent with the patience and grace I desire. I make many mistakes along the way, but I practice forgiving myself and try again the next day. I ask that we each do that for ourselves, as well as for others.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Do you spend time recounting your failures? What if you forgave yourself?
For more information on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. please see A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Bearing the Cross