The Jewish High Holidays, which just passed, and which fall between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), are a time for reflection and repentance.
It’s during this time that people are engaged in deep contemplation.
We’re called on to ask forgiveness from those whom we’ve slighted or harmed in any way.
Asking for forgiveness is not an easy task.
It requires an awareness that we’ve done wrong, the humility to ask for forgiveness, and the commitment to change our behavior in the future.
In short, it takes insight and courage.
Forgiveness is a funny thing. It’s easy to say “I’m sorry” quickly and without really meaning it.
It’s quite another to think long and hard on the ways in which we might have hurt a family member or friend, and then approach them modestly, with heart in hand.
Humility is the key word here.
It’s defined as “freedom from pride or arrogance.”
Let’s face it, we all like to be right, and hate being wrong.
Admitting our faults, whether in word or deed, is a process not to be taken lightly.
We want to start off the new year with a clean slate, and this is the best way to do it.
So, with good intentions and humility in hand, I approached my husband and asked his forgiveness for those times when I spoke harshly or unkindly to him.
For those times when I acted disrespectfully or callously. And he forgave me. And that was the end of the conversation.
To be honest, I was kind of waiting for him to do the same, but it didn’t happen.
I had to remind myself that we should do noble things with no expectation of return.
And I waited. Still hopeful. Then it happened.
He came to me the next day (after the bruising and swelling had gone down) and asked for forgiveness for things he’d said or done that may have hurt me. And I forgave him.
This made me think — what if the person you ask forgiveness from, refuses your apology?
Are we absolved anyway, or do we languish guiltily in limbo?
Throughout my life there have been people who have hurt me immeasurably, and have never asked for forgiveness.
I carried the hurt, anger and resentment for years, like a huge sack of bricks on my heart.
So many years later, I still harbour a shred of hurt.
Does that mean I haven’t evolved enough spiritually?
Does it mean their act was so heinous that it’s unforgiveable?
What I think it means is that I have more work to do in the area of forgiveness.
Don’t we all.
Shelley Civkin is a former communications officer.