Reflections on acceptance and forgiveness

Sundown tomorrow through sundown Thursday is the Jewish Day of Atonement.  This is the day when we reflect on the past year, ask forgiveness from those we have hurt, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us, knowingly or unknowingly and vow to do better in the coming year. 

As I sat to meditate today, I thought about forgiveness, and I thought about a guided meditation that I came across several years ago by Dr. Lissa Rankin.  The meditation was called “I Accept”.  She starts by stating that “…all suffering comes from our failure to accept what is.”  That was a real brain-twister for me when I first heard that, and I had to think about it for quite a while.  I finally saw that when you really get down to it, it is true.  We suffer when we resist what is happening. But, when we accept what is, we can start to release our fear and hurt and pain.  We can face reality and make choices about how to react and respond. 

We suffer when we don’t accept another person’s behavior.  We replay the hurt and resentment and memories.  It weighs us down.  It holds us back.  Once we accept that another person’s behavior is based on their own story and past and baggage that they carry, we can release judgement and stop taking it personally. That does not mean we have to condone the behavior or engage with it.  We can express how we feel.  We can choose to establish boundaries.  We can choose to walk away.

I think that acceptance and forgiveness are tightly linked.  Once we accept someone as they are and respond in the way that feels right to ourselves, we can begin to forgive.  We can be set free of the heaviness of our feelings and heal those wounds.  We can forgive ourselves for mistakes we have made and people we may have hurt through our words and actions.  

May this day of atonement bring acceptance, forgiveness, and peace to everyone everywhere.  Amen. 

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