Diversity and Spirituality: The Journey (Part 1)

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If you’ve ever struggled with FORGIVENESS, frustration, or resentment PLEASE READ below AND SHARE. I know someone needs to read this today!

My name is Cheryl Ingram and I am the CEO and Founder of a company called Diverse City LLC (http://diversecityllc.com). And this is my daily testimony.

I recall the saying, that without a test, there can be no testimony. My company’s mission is to end all forms discrimination in education and the workplace throughout the world. Recently, I’ve been doing some serious self reflection. The reason for the reflection is because I constantly ask myself “IF I CAN’T FORGIVE THE WORLD, HOW AM I GOING TO HEAL IT?” I woke up this morning as many people would say “on the wrong side of the bed” annoyed and angry and I started meditating and asking the universe and God (I do not identify as Christian, but I believe in God) for guidance. After mediating I went to the gym and I worked out and during my workout I received a text message that made me rethink whether or not I had actually forgiven those who have hurt me in my life. I started to question, what is forgiveness really look like? Was I actually practicing it? How would I know if I had reached forgiveness? I felt this extreme heaviness and decided it was time to leave the gym and walk home.

 

As I was walking home, I started praying. I asked for answers to the questions I had started asking in the gym. Suddenly I heard this voice that told me to look too the left and I saw this church. Now, I have walked the road to my gym many times and never noticed this church. Then something inside me told me to go inside, I fought it at first and kept walking but then, something stopped me in my tracks and told me to turn around. So I turned around and went back to the church. As I walked in I felt this need to walk to my right and there before me was the sign posted below. It immediately spoke to me. As a person whose passion and life is dedicated to diversity and inclusion this meant a lot. Then a woman came out and her warm presence gave me comfort, she introduced herself as Kirsten and shook my hand. I asked if the pastor was present, and she was in her office.

 

Kirsten then walked me into the front office and there is where I met Pastor Amy. I don’t know what came over me, but I asked her if she had 10 minutes to talk and she said yes. We went into the lobby where there were numerous signs dedicated to inclusion and welcomeness and I knew I was in the right place.  Pastor Amy looked right at me and she said “tell me what’s surfacing for you.” I immediately opened up to this woman and told her about my struggles of forgiveness and how I work in D&I everyday with people filled with anger and resentment and how in order for me to really serve them, I questioned whether or not I was practicing the forgiveness of disappointment and hurt I faced from others. Then she said something that changed my mindset forever regarding the action of forgiveness.

 

She looked me in the eye and said “Forgiveness is a spiritual practice. It’s something you have to wake up and think about daily. You can’t just attempt to try it once and think you’ve let something go, and it’s over.” She told me about her experience working as a hospital Chaplain and how she had watched people on their death beds regret not forgiving people they knew or loved and how they’d wish they had done things differently. She told me about the people who refused to forgive and died with anger and bitterness in their hearts. This woke me up and made me realize that I do not want to end up like the latter of the two. It also reminded me that I have been placed in the right profession.

You see my journey and my goal is to help heal the world of the pain that leads to discrimination based on our identities. To redefine how we value human life and treat one another equitably and equally. Today I was reminded of something I constantly tell others and that is “if you want to do diversity and inclusion work, the first part of your journey has to begin with self exploration. Then you need to continue this practice over and over.”

 

Forgiveness does not come easy, neither does change, as a matter of fact it is an important part of the process of growth. Human beings have two phases of forgiveness, the forgiveness of self and then the forgiveness of others. In order to develop a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we must continue to crucially and critically evaluate all phases of life. But, first start intrapersonally. The intrapersonal exploration will impact your ability to assess, facilitate, and implement your work and daily practice.  If you don’t agree, then D&I work, done right, is not for you.

I hope my words resonate with someone today. Be well and take care of one another. We need each other.

~Dr. CI

 

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