The Other I

July 13, 2010

Forgiveness Day

I was gritting my teeth recently as I remembered the time I supervised the men packing up all our belongings in our move from New York to Europe.  When they had finished, I thanked them all graciously.  But I didn’t know it was the expected custom to give them each a tip.  So I didn’t.

These examples of insensitivity, selfishness, or simply misunderstanding come back to me occasionally in excruciating moments of what feels like regret.  I would like to say that the intensity of regret is a measure of the harm done, but I fear it too often may be more a measure of egocentrism.  My trespasses are so often so insignificant that only my inflated view of myself can possibly consider them important.  Others might not even remember them at all.

They are not typically things one would mention in confession – if indeed I should ever be tempted to return to that dark secretive cubicle to whisper my sins to the anonymous priest behind the curtain.  A psychiatrist would no doubt conclude that I was dealing with a pathological guilt complex.

So along with Thanksgiving in November, I am proposing Forgiveness Day for myself.

It’s a day when I can forgive myself  for all the things I’ve done, big or small, that I wish I hadn’t.   Whether I did them on purpose or not.  Whether I was culpable or not.  Whether somebody else was hurt or not.  It’s a day when we recognize we don’t have to be perfect – or even very good – to be loved.

I know that in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask to be forgiven our own sins “as we forgive others sins against us.”

But if you are as egocentric as I am, it’s sometimes easier to forgive others than to forgive oneself.  At least when I forgive others I feel gracious and generous and virtuous.

But to forgive myself, I sometimes have to admit that I’m not nearly as important as I would like to think.

1 Comment »

  1. No problem. Chances are that the movers who came to pack for shipping to Europe are no longer findable. This is what I did once in a somewhat similar situation: call the office of the moving company and tell them you are sending lunch for the crew. A couple of pizzas, some sandwiches and sodas should do it. Tell them why and find out which day is best to catch the fellows at the premises. Not quite equal to a $20 tip maybe but it will make you feel a lot better.

    Comment by budavar — July 15, 2010


    Comment by theotheri — July 15, 2010 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

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