Forgiveness

We Jews just wrapped up the holiday of Yom Kippur for 2018 (year 5779 of the Jewish calendar).

In a nutshell, Yom Kippur is the day of repentance, the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. Friends will often hear me refer to it as the Super Bowl of the Jewish calendar, and it’s a powerful day of fasting, prayer, and reflection. We are called during this time to take a hard look at our lives, to ask forgiveness from friends and family and to work towards self-improvement going forward. It’s not a small feat, and I really look forward to it.

FYI, I had written an entirely different post about Yom Kippur, it was all queued up and ready to go, but then had a personal experience on this whole asking for forgiveness thing that has moved me to write this new one late last night, after the holiday ended. It has happened over the course of my life–whether it’s in person, over the phone, or in writing–that I have received Yom Kippur timed requests for forgiveness. Being of the more rote, superficial type, they were not memorable, and I never felt compelled to take them seriously. They were mostly treated with some iteration of “ha ha, don’t be silly, of course!”

This year, however, in the hours leading up to the start of the holiday, I received a call from a vintage friend, asking for forgiveness. This is a close, beloved long-time friend who knows my insides, who has seen the most beautiful and also the most messy parts of my life. Someone I love deeply. And someone with whom my relationship has been strained for the better part of this last year. This strain has been excruciatingly painful. So painful, I wondered and worried if the relationship was unrecoverable. Needless to say, I doubt I will ever forget this call.

It was a serious call, one that rocked me to my core. A powerful and true request for forgiveness. It was real, it was raw, it was emotional. Don’t think for one second that I didn’t think about this phone call the entire holiday, a holiday rooted in deep reflection, of course I did. The details of the call aren’t important for this post, only that they mattered to me, and that the intention and attention this person took to deliver them to me carved out a part of my heart. This is a person so dear, I would forgive anything, had it mattered enough to them to ask. I simply had no idea how much I needed to be asked, because in the asking, I felt truly seen, truly heard, truly understood and loved.

Yeah, I know: Relationships 101. We must be clear and deliberate in our communications with one another. Consider the other. Be open-hearted and open-minded. Make no assumptions. Guess what: Even the coach–this coach, who prioritizes relationships over everything else–is always learning.

Powerful.

Listen, forgiveness doesn’t happen in a day, it’s a process. But the process has to begin somewhere, and I’m thinking it’s with getting real with what’s eating at the foundation of our relationships, and being brave enough to engage with the ones we love on it. It’s not easy, but it’s important. Oh, and make no mistake about it, in addition to reflecting on this call and its impact on me, I spent a lot of the holiday also wondering about what I was missing. What is my role in this and other relationships that needs repairing? Who was waiting on such a call from me? What forgiveness processes, including the ones where I am more forgiving of myself, did I need to initiate? The Yom Kippur ripple effect, still ripping. I’ll say it again: Powerful.

Would love to hear whether you can relate to needing to ask or being asked for forgiveness. Please let me know.

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