Personal Development Column
By: Opal O. Murray – Life Coach – Many of us are familiar with the hymn Amazing Grace. We may not, however, be familiar with the powerful story of transformation that inspired John Newton to write the lyrics. Even less is known of how this transformation fueled events that led to the cessation of one of Europe’s most brutal and inhumane activities.
John Newton was born in London in 1725 at a time when approximately 60,000 Africans were forcibly removed each year and taken to be enslaved in the Caribbean and the Americas. His father was a merchant marine and he too earned his living plying the seas. Eventually he became the captain of a ship that transported Africans to the horrid life of enslavement. It was on one such voyage while attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm he reported that his transformation or ‘great deliverance’ occurred. When he penned Amazing Grace, he spoke of being lost but was now found, of being blind but now seeing. He embarked on a mission to become educated and was later admitted to the clergy. He was a minister when he met British politicians William Pitt and William Wilberforce and would later become one of their chief advisors as they worked to abolish the ‘trade’ that he had vacated. Newton died December 1807. Nine months after the British Parliament passed the law that abolished the slave trade on March 25, 1807. The passage of this law created the model for the eventual abolition of slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas. Amazing Grace has flourished and is still a favorite hymn. Interestingly, it is believed that the tune to which it is now sung was created by enslaved Africans.
Transformation or change is a natural process. It is life itself! Whether you live in an environment where change is measured by the weather, planets, plants or activities, it is difficult for you to ignore. Yet you will harden your heart and not undergo the personal transformation necessary to take you from your darkness to light; from blindness to sight; from being lost to being found; from enslavement to freedom; from indebtedness to prosperity. You make excuses that you do not have enough of something. The ‘something’ may be called power, money; education; time and the list goes on. The truth is, you refute your courage, faith and perseverance.
A great teacher once implored us to be ‘transformed by the renewing of our minds.’ Take this time to look inside yourself. See what you are thinking. Feel what your heart is saying. Think of the strength exhibited by the Pitts, Newtons and Wilberforces of your world. Remind yourself that they too were vilified when they lived their truths. Remind yourself that their transformation fueled their determination to act on what their hearts guided them to do.
Wilberforce wrote that ‘So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the slave trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition.’ What do you find so enormous or so dreadful or so irremediable? It could be the catalyst for your transformation. It may very well help you make up your mind and have you move from inaction to action; from servitude to freedom.
Your greatness is awaiting its birth. Open your heart and mind to your transformation. The advancement of your world depends on the presentation of this amazing gift – your amazing gift.