My husband and I collect stones with words on them: love, health, family, even Beshert. Until recently, one was missing. We wondered how we had thought the collection complete without it, so we added a new stone: forgive.
Forgiveness is a central theme of the Jewish High Holidays. We ask God to forgive our sins, and we forgive those who have wronged us. What I don’t see emphasized is the need to forgive ourselves. Self forgiveness — the ability to say, “Who I was before doesn’t dictate who I will be in the future” — seems to be at the core of atonement.
I often think about a sentence I heard at a Weight Watchers meeting:
Your eating can be out of control at 10:00 and back in control at 10:05.
I love the insight this phrase suggests. It speaks to the hopeful promise that whatever your failings, you can forgive yourself, change and move on. Forgiving yourself, however, is harder than you might think.
I can list proudly many things I have done as a parent, but I have a list of shame as well. When my children were young, I was a yeller. Every parent yells at their kids at times, but I yelled a lot. One day, when my daughter was 12, we went to the grocery store.
I gave her a list of things to get. When we met at the check-out counter, she had gotten the wrong thing and I yelled at her. A few minutes later, in the parking lot, a woman approached me and said Continue reading