How Do You Forgive Yourself

We just rang in the New Year with Rosh Hashanah, and we all know what shortly comes after.

With Yom Kippur approaching, it is imperative we reflect on the past year we’ve had as individuals and evaluate our decisions.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is almost a holiday of guilt. We repent our sins throughout the day as we fast, and promise to do better in the year to come.

The most important thing to remember during this holiday is that God forgives. God knows we make mistakes and that’s why we are able to be honest with Him/Her.

A few years ago, I was in a car accident. The other car I collided with ran a red light. He ran the light. He wasn’t looking. But for some reason, I still felt guilty because I didn’t hit the break.

I remember as the airbag hit my face, my world stopped. With ringing ears, I couldn’t believe my foot hovered over the break. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I hit the break? Why didn’t I try to protect the other passengers?

I saw the bump on my friend’s knee, my other friend’s cochlear implant laying on the street, and heard the screams and cries of my friends when the third girl in the car said she couldn’t move her neck.

How could I have caused this much pain to others? I could’ve prevented this.

I cried for days, weeks and even months. I stopped eating, and had no motivation to get out of bed to go to school. I used the bruises on my body as an excuse to try to convince my mom to let me stay home.

I remember walking into school that morning. People stared, and I didn’t know if it was because they felt bad for me, or were judging me for what I’d done.

My classmates hugged me, but it was too painful to be touched. I went to dance practice, but could barely move. My dance teacher told me to go home and rest.

I felt helpless. I couldn’t think straight; my world was turned upside down and I so badly wished my life was still normal like it had been only a week before.

This guilt followed me for months, however, Yom Kippur is a time in which we must remember to take care of ourselves and be kind to ourselves. This is the day we remember the mistakes we’ve made, but we can’t beat ourselves up when something doesn’t go right, because it doesn’t help. Yes, we work through our sins, but we also wash them away.

So, I eventually forgave myself. I had the green light. I was driving at normal speed.

Guilt is one of the toughest emotions to rid from our minds, but we must remember God is here to forgive us, which also gives us permission to forgive ourselves.

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