Jerry Smith: I accept my healing

This is a reflection of Tuesday’s Inauguration of President Barack Obama by Jerry Smith, Leader of the Men’s Ministry at Friendship-West Baptist Church.

As I have reflected back on the events of Tuesday’s Inauguration, I truly feel healed. I had so many thoughts going through my mind as I watch a black man raise his hand to become president.

My mind flashed back to the first time I was called the “N” word. I was walking down State Street in West Lafayette, IN, right past the Chocolate Shop bar.  There they were, riding past shouting out that phrase, “F_ _ _ _ _ _ N word.”

What had I done except try to improve myself by attending Purdue University? Why didn’t they just pull over and discuss their feelings like men? It was my first experience with racism as I had stepped outside the bubble of Gary, IN. I must admit rage built up inside of me and I took it out on others that did not look like me.

But on Inauguration Day, I thought about last March when I took my daughters and granddaughter to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta. We were sitting there watching a civil rights film that chronicled some portions of the struggle and the funeral services of Dr. King.

I remember sitting there crying after the movie unable to move. I had seen this movie before but what was the difference? This time I had understood the struggle that had been made for me.

Then thoughts of Jena, Louisiana went through my mind and I knew I had grown as a man. I was willing to face all that our people had gone through with dignity and without shame.

All these things flashed through my mind as President Obama stood there and became Commander-In-Chief. I finally had forgiven those men on State Street and in the people in those Civil Rights films.

I forgave myself for not living up to my potential. All I have left is what is in front of me and I accept the challenge as a Whole Man saved by grace. I finally accept the healing I received at the cross when I first saw the light.

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