On Tuesday I blogged about what Elul-y things I had learned after hastily posting a video which wasn’t all it could have been.
One of the take-aways I identified was forgiveness. The producers of the video had made a bad video (in my opinion). That’s it. Moving on.
Likewise I had posted it without giving it sufficient thought. It was a mistake. Moving on.
Except… I’m not a “moving on” kind of person. I’m a “gnaws at my gut for days, and comes back to haunt me at unexpected times years later” kind of guy.
Recently I met up with someone who knew me way back when:
Him: “You probably don’t remember me, but I’m Plony Almony and I was your science teacher in 7th grade”
Me: “I’m sorry.”
Him: “Oh, it’s no big deal. I didn’t expect that you would remember me right away.”
Me: “No, I mean ‘I’m sorry’ for everything I put you through back in 7th grade!”
The conversation went on and he made a point to tell me that everything he remembered of me was good. I wasn’t one of his memorably “bad” kids.
So why did my memory and his differ? You see, as I recall things I was truly an obnoxious little snot.
Because, for the most part, I don’t take the time to forgive myself of my own faults, and most certainly I can’t forgive myself for actions in the far-flung past where I can’t go back and right the wrong.
Except that I can, and should.
I found the answer to my mental dilemma in, of all places, an episode of “Oprah“.
In speaking to a young woman who had, years earlier, suffered horribly at the hands of people she trusted, Oprah asked whether she had found the strength to forgive them. The young woman said she didn’t know how that would be possible, how could someone forgive what could never be changed.
Oprah talked about how real healing can only happen when we have found a way to forgive the ones who have wronged us. Then she said,
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean saying it’s OK when it’s not. Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.”
The past can’t be changed. No matter how many times I revisit in my mind that classroom and shout at my younger self to sit down, shut up, stop acting like I knew anything – let alone everything – and give an ounce of respect to the material if not the person who is graciously taking the time to try to teach it… no matter how many times I wish I could rewrite that chapter, I can’t. It’s done. More importantly, I’m not that kid any more. I’ve still got my faults, but not those. The guilt of those past deeds is un-necessary weight. It doesn’t need to be carried around any longer.
So in this month of Elul I’m working on revisiting all those once-upon-a-time memories just once more, acknowledging that they happenED, and actively giving myself permission to move on.