Patricia Raybon is the same age as me. Her African American childhood of prejudice and segregation, white wealth and privilege was very different from mine.
In ‘My First White Friend’ she describes her rage, bitterness, powerlessness and fear of failure; her desire to be acceptable to white people in a white dominated world. She learned to let go and move on through forgiveness and love.
‘I saw the power in forgiveness and the forgiveness in power.’
The power of forgiveness heals the destructive power of hate and resentment, enabling me to know hope and bring positive change.
‘Forgiveness isn’t a contract with somebody. It doesn’t have to take both parties. It only takes my willingness.’
I am not a helpless victim waiting for someone else to act. I name my injury, forgive those who hurt me, and forgive myself.
‘Forgiveness, if it’s anything, is a process.’
Jesus told Peter to forgive ‘seventy times seven’; forgiveness must be over and over again. It doesn’t happen all at once…. I must begin, continue and keep on the process of forgiveness.
‘Love my enemies. Because I don’t have the luxury not to love them.’
The softness of love may appear weak and passive. Hate destroys and leads to more hate. Love brings broken, flawed people together and enables rebuilding.
‘Love them as Jesus loved the lepers and the thief on the cross and the street-walking woman at the well. Love them as Ghandi loved the silly British royalists, even as he battled to overcome them…’
I learn about love from the example of Jesus and so many others…
‘Love is the only thing that everybody needs… Everybody longs for it. Anybody can give it. Nobody ever wants to miss it.
I must love in my Lowestoft world where people need to see, feel and receive love.
‘My First White Friend’ by Patricia Raybon (1996)