Forgive Me, Please!
Let me get this over with: Will each and every one of you please forgive me for anything I may have done to hurt
you over the past year? I’ll take that as a yes. Thanks. I feel much better. That wasn’t even too hard!
We must make amends. We are charged to do so before Yom Kippur. The day may bring atonement for sins against God, but it cannot atone for sins against other people. Many have the custom of asking everyone they know, friend, family and foe to forgive them. I do not believe that such a custom works. In fact, there is probably a simple way to determine how effective it is: will the person I am asking for forgiveness fell comfortable saying no? We only have a few moments, if that much, for all the people to whom we must make amends. How much regret and compassion can be expressed as we rush from one person to another asking, “Do you forgive me?” Is there a husband in the world who can summarize a year’s worth of moments of insensitivity, 365 days of words that hurt, twelve months of the things taken for granted, and put them in a simple “Do you forgive me?” The four words may actually make things worse!
We are about to spend a full day asking God for His forgiveness. We probably cannot afford 24 hours for each person, but they deserve more than four words. In fact, if we can appropriately address just one person to make amends we will learn how to better speak to God on Yom Kippur. If we are willing to hear a “No!” from someone too hurt to forgive in a snap, we will remember that forgiveness can not be taken for granted.
Asking and granting forgiveness demands effort, care and attention. It’s worth it!
*Make an effort to make the other person feel better. Do it for them, not for you.
*Be willing to take “No!” for an answer. Find out why.
*Listen carefully to others asking for your forgiveness. Don’t answer without thought.
*Be prepared to spend time making amends.
*The closer the person; the more effort.
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