Tshuva, forgiveness, this is a core element all Jews strive for that comes in three phases; Asking forgiveness from those you’ve wronged, forgiving yourself, and asking G-d for forgiveness. I have spent the better part of 8 years trying to ask others to forgive me for my transgressions and doing my best to become someone worthy of their forgiveness. Once I began my journey into Judaism, I immediately began seeking forgiveness and much to my surprise, the Jewish people have accepted me, often embraced me, and have given their forgiveness.
The Jewish community is the most loving, understanding community that I have ever met, and while most have given me words of encouragement and have forgiven me, I will continue to work on being worthy of that forgiveness and to be able to forgive myself fully. Through the last high-holy days I wrote letters to Hashem, I spoke words to him, not to seek forgiveness yet, but to ask him for the strength/Ish and wisdom to forgive myself. While I know I am no longer even a semblance of the old me, I feel my work of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world from my influence and works, has only truly just begun.
I still feel tremendous pain when I am given forgiveness, not physical pain but emotional and spiritual pain because I do not yet feel wholly worthy of it myself. I fully understand that I should forgive myself, I should let it go and continue the holy work of Tikkun Olam, but I struggle to resolve what I did and was, with all I’ve done today. I will eventually forgive myself, but my work to heal the world from the darkness I helped to propagate will never end and I will fight to my dying breath to see an end to hatred, antisemitism, division, and extremism.
I hope to be able to ask Hashem for forgiveness these next high-holy days, but only if I feel I have become deserving of such and only if I can forgive myself. The pain is as a hollowness, a shell within me, which keeps back a torrent of tears quite often, but I hope to free myself of this through the mitzvot and through my work. Hashem has blessed me countless times, so I know he’s got my back and I have him eternally, so I know I will heal and be a stronger force for an even greater good. 8 years isn’t long enough, and I don’t know how much longer it’ll take, but I’m willing to do the work and keep on keeping on.
I don’t beat myself up over my past, in fact, I use it to help others avoid the same pitfalls and foibles and to find acceptance, love, and unity. I know this… but there’s still work to be done.