Taking time to seek and grant forgiveness
“I’d forgive a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g,” my 6-year-old said this morning as he looked directly into my eyes from across the kitchen counter. I blinked back my tears and told him it was a wonderfully wise way to live.
“But,” he then said, “some things take longer to forgive than others.”
Ahhhh. So true, I thought.
How’d this too-deep-for-the-early-hour conversation come about, you might be wondering? Well, let me back up to about 15 minutes earlier. With the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur approaching tonight, I had engaged my boys in an impromptu, breakfast-time discussion about forgiveness. First, I commented on what loving brothers they usually are (I’m such a lucky mommy!) and then said, “But sometimes people who are really close hurt each other or hurt each other’s feelings. Can you think of ways you’ve been hurt by your brother?”
“Well,” The Diamond chimed in quickly, “I do remember when [The Buddha] threw a shoe at me and it hit me in the cheek.” The Buddha was more reticent, but I could tell he was thinking.
Then I asked them each to think about ways they might have hurt the other. I helped them along as they took turns naming their offense, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. We also brainstormed ways they might have made the situation better at the time. It was a beautiful series of exchanges.
On the last round of apologies, I asked each boy to identify how he felt when his brother hurt his feelings. My goal was awareness on both sides: for the “offender” to understand the impact he had on his brother, and also to create greater awareness of how we feel when someone says or does something to us that’s not nice. We had some revealing moments with this, too.
After the Buddha’s schoolbus came for him, The Diamond wanted to continue the conversation. He thought for a moment about what he might want my forgiveness for. “For not always listening,” he said. He apologized and asked for my forgiveness. “Absolutely,” I said.
Now, my turn. I told him I was sorry for not always listening to him, either. “Will you forgive me?” I asked. He responded:
“I’d forgive a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. But some things take longer to forgive than others.”
He may have been talking about shoes being thrown at his face a couple of months ago, but I couldn’t help but think about long, long-ago slights. How much am I holding onto? And how long have I been holding on?
I know that when I hold on to pain and resentment, it hurts me more than anyone. I once read, ““Resentment is the poison I take, wishing the other person would die.” Between that sentiment and my son’s, I go into this weekend of Yom Kippur with incredible reminders of the importance of letting go. I am listening to you now, Diamond. I will seek forgiveness. And I will grant it.
Wishing you peace,