September 9, 2010

What If I Can’t Forgive?


2008-06-25 00212
photo credit: Shoshanah

Wednesday evening at sundown marked the beginning of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana. It also marked the beginning of what is known among Jews as the 10 days of Awe. It is a time when Jews repent for the sins they have committed and ask forgiveness. We ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged. And we ask for forgiveness from G-D.

We teach our children to say I’m sorry, but often we, as adults, do not. Many of us go about our business and if something goes wrong we often just blow it off. Sometimes blaming others instead of looking inside and wondering if maybe we did something that created the situation. It’s easier to walk away and grumble under our breath about what they did.

But what if you can’t forgive? What if someone hurts you so bad that you don’t want to forgive them? And what if they don’t ask you for forgiveness? See, as a Jew I’m supposed to go to the people I have wronged and ask them for forgiveness. I can’t be forgiven unless I ask.

So, what if some jerk does something so terrible to me and my family but doesn’t ask for forgiveness? What if that person doesn’t think they did anything wrong even though the courts said so? And what if that person’s family continues to allow him to play the victim, when in fact he’s the perpetrator?

Can I forgive him? Am I supposed to forgive him? And if I don’t forgive him do I carry it with me. And if so, how long.

How do you put down hate? I ask G-D to forgive me for not wanting to forgive someone who thinks that what he did was OK. And I ask forgiveness because I can’t forgive but I want to forgive. I wonder if G-D thinks he’s having a discussion with a crazy person.

What if I have to forgive myself? Maybe I need to ask myself for forgiveness? What if I need to forgive myself for hating someone so much? Could G-D have already forgiven me?

Every day for the past three years I’ve asked G-D to forgive me. But I’ve never asked myself for forgiveness.

Today that changes. Today I will forgive myself for even caring what that fool thought or whether he was sorry for what he did. He wasn’t. He never will be. He will never ask me to forgive him.

He faced a judge and never asked for forgiveness, said I’m sorry or even acknowledged his wrongdoing. The thing is, it never mattered to the judge whether this kid thought what he did was wrong. The truth was told. And here on earth, in a courtroom in America someone sat in judgment of the criminal and judged.

I don’t have to forgive him. I need to forgive myself for believing all the lies that were said about me. Painting me a bad mom, a horrible wife, a deceptive friend and an all-around horrible person. Preposterous! I’m none of those things. And to believe them for a minute, I wronged myself.

And now I need to forgive myself. I have 10 days. I will forgive myself! And if you need to forgive yourself, then do it. It is freeing and empowering.

Welcome to my Jewish Year of Awesome!



Jessi September 9, 2010 at 5:53 am

Powerful stuff, mama. And very well said. And you’re totally right. The worst baggage you’re carrying is the guilt and blame you’re heaping on yourself. Forgive yourself. Drop that burden, mama.

Congrats on your new found freedom!

Sara September 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Hi Jessi,

Thank you for visiting and for leaving such a nice comment. I appreciate the support!

Amy @ Dealusional September 9, 2010 at 7:09 am

I hold grudges from kindergarten, so I’m certainly no one to speak about forgiveness. But you DO need to allow yourself to believe that you’re a beautiful person, a wonderful mother and a great wife.

I hope you can find some healing and peace during this Rosh Hashana.

Sara September 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm


Thank you. I try not to hold grudges, but this one thing has been holding on so tight. I do hope that with this new found insight I can rid myself of this albatross.

Tanya September 9, 2010 at 7:11 am

This is such an awesome post! Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things for humans to do. It requires us to be the person who we were always meant to be. That isn’t always an easy task. I know you can do it, you will be freeing yourself and that’s what is most important. I grew up with a lot of Jewish friends. I always rememeber this time of year, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Thanks for sharing-

Sara September 9, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Hello Tanya,

Thank you for reading my blog and for leaving an insightful comment. You’re right that forgiveness is difficult but also very freeing. I’m hoping to feel some of that free-ness very soon.

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang September 9, 2010 at 9:40 am

Oh Sara. This post is beautiful.

As a Catholic, I am 100% in agreement with you about forgiveness. It is a necessary part of my daily life.

So many times, this world tries to tell me that because I forgive others, I am a doormat or pushover. What the world doesn’t realize, is that I have a freedom within me from the burden of hurt and grudges. Grudges are something I struggle with. I have actually prayed for a worse memory because I store all the wrongs in my pocket as an arsenal for latter, hurtful use.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us and for teaching us of your beautiful faith.

Have a blessed Rosh Hashana.

Sara September 9, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Hello Kate,

I appreciate your insight about forgiveness and agree with you that forgiving others does not make me a doormat. I’ve actually asked my psychologist if she has one of those flashy things like they had in Men In Black so that she can make it go away. If only!

Honey September 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm


What a powerful post! You are such a strong, beautiful woman. G*D knows your heart and He knows the circumstances. It is so important to forgive, but sometimes easier said than done. I know this from my own experiences.

I am always challenged, inspired, or changed by your posts. I love your writing Sara.


Sara September 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Thank you for visiting today, Honey. Forgiveness is definitely easier said than done. I think forgiveness is a learned skill that takes practice and because it’s so hard to do we don’t practice it enough. It’s a difficult cycle. I just don’t want to be an old woman holding on to something that makes me bitter. So I keep working on it. And, forgiving myself should be easy because I’m not going to yell at me, right?

V Demetros September 9, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Wow, powerful stuff. I hate to admit that I also carry around this type of anger and find it hard to forgive, or rather to move on and let it go. I don’t happen to think that forgiving someone matters, it’s just how you deal with it that matters. If forgiveness is what you need to move on, then do it. As long as it doesn’t drag you down, it’s your call. I appreciate that you have certainly given me something to think about, as usual. You’re a great mom and friend.

Sara September 9, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Thank you for leaving a comment, Valerie. You always have great insight. Letting things go, now that’s a novel idea. Putting it down and being done with it. It’s actually quite timely because part of the 10 days of awe is a holiday called Tashlich (tash-leek) where Jews metaphorically cast their sins into the sea. Since I’m not near a sea, my congregation gathers at a local home that is on one of those manmade lakes and we toss bread into the water as a symbol of letting go. I need to bake me a giant challah and toss that in (hoping not to hit any birds!), symbolizing the giant burden this is, and the letting go. Maybe next time I’m in CA I’ll do this and cast it off, far far far away into a real sea. Thank you so much!, Sara

Heather September 10, 2010 at 8:29 am

Wow. Just wow.

You are a great mom, a supportive wife, an amazing friend and all-around good person. I am blessed to know and so sorry to hear someone was able to make you believe such awful lies about yourself.

Forgiveness is hard. I think because we see it as something we do *for* the person who wronged us. I’ve got to get past that idea myself because I know it’s so good for myself to let things go.

Sara September 10, 2010 at 11:03 pm


Thank you for visiting and commenting. I truly appreciate your friendship and support. Thank you for confirming what I consciously know — these things said about me are lies. Maybe my subconscious will listen one day! Soon, I hope. Sara

Star Forbis September 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Beautiful & Honest post. Thank you for writing it. Forgiveness is very hard. I’ve had to learn by not forgiving, I am continuing to give that person power over me. Power and they do not deserve. Forgiving is not saying that what they did is okay or even forgotten. It’s taking our power back. It’s letting go of the hold they have over us. It is us freeing ourselves, not them.

Sara September 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Star, thank you for such wisdom and insight. I never thought about looking at forgiveness as taking back my power. You’re so right though! I struggle with the part of forgiveness that seems to imply that I’m OK with it now, which I’m not. Thank you for setting me straight, I know it comes from experience and years of ministering to help empower women. I appreciate your comment greatly.


Star Forbis September 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

You are so welcome. I think we all struggle with it! Thank you for being transparent for all of us.

rhonda September 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Just want to say I love you dear sister! You do need to forgive yourself. You are an amazing woman, wife, mother and friend. Anything said to you was never true, no matter how hard it is to remember that. We’ve learned to blame/doubt ourselves first.

Sara September 11, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Rhonda, Thank you for your support through all the drama and the continued struggle to move forward. I love you too!


Hollee September 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I don’t know the nature of what happened, but I am so sorry that you went through all of this. Although we don’t know each other well, I feel very confident that I have developed a 6th sense about genuine “good” people, and you, my friend, are one of them. Happy New Year!

Li September 14, 2010 at 7:13 am

Hey Sara,
I agree with so much of what you stated. Forgiving yourself can be just as hard – if not harder – than forgiving someone else. So, working on that I think is of utmost importance. And it will be a process. Accept whatever your harbor in yourself (guilt, anger, etc.) Observe it. And slowly you will be able to forgive yourself. But don’t give up. You are worth it.

Acknowledging that you cannot forgive someone else is actually very healthy. Accepting the inability to forgive someone is actually the first step to being aware and conscious of your feelings, and slowly, maybe, you can let go. It doesn’t mean you forget. It doesn’t mean that the wrong that was done is “ok.” Never. But it does mean you’re not carrying that sack of potatoes on your back everyday [because eventually, it rots, and festers and the only one who suffers in your state of non-forgiveness while trying to force yourself to forgive is you].

So bascially to me it sounds like you’re in a very healthy place. Accepting how you feel is just the first step on a positive journey.

Thank you for sharing what I know must have been very difficult to share.


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: