#BlogElul 12 – Forgive

BlogElul graphic Today’s word is Forgive, a word we use repeatedly in the High Holy Day liturgy, asking G-d to give us a chance to make things better in the new year.

Looking back at my posts from 2012, 2013 and 2014, I discussed the importance of forgiving a person who has wronged us, if we can let go of anger and reproach and move on with our lives. That’s actually a remarkably big if.

Of course the person who receives the forgiveness also benefits, if they can let go of guilt and shame and move on with their own lives. Again, you’d think they would jump on that, but it’s not that simple.

People are very attached to their stories, whether of victimhood and blame, or shame and guilt. Sometimes they feel both at the same time. It can be very hard to let go of these stories, because then who are we? It becomes time to build a new identity, one that is free from these stories, and that is very scary.

My current favourite podcaster, Jeffery Combs, says that the person we really need to forgive, on both sides of the equation, is ourselves. It’s much easier to forgive other people than it is to forgive ourselves – for being imperfect, for messing up, for making mistakes, for not being that cool girl or the one with the long, straight hair (that one was always a hard one for me), for not getting every question right on the test. If we forgive ourselves and stop beating ourselves up for these things, who are we?

To quote the great philosopher, Inigo Montoya:

Inigo Montoya: Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.
Westley: Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.

Most of us do not consider piracy, or any other radically new story to give our lives meaning. But it is imperative that we move on from the old stories that are not serving us.

Will you forgive yourself for your past failings, and move on to a new story this year?

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