Blogging Ellul: Receiving Teshuvah

Much of Ellul we spend thinking about who we can make repentance towards and how. But we may also be receiving requests for forgiveness as others make their teshuvah - return.

Letting go of that which has hurt or offended us is also an important part of Ellul. We are required to sincerely ask for forgiveness three times. If we are still not forgiven by the person being asked we are absolved of our responsibility - in a sense it becomes their problem, and it really is a problem for the person that cannot forgive. Carrying around the resentment and hurt builds into a ball of negativity inside oneself that damages the holder and poisons their outlook.

In one instance of being the unforgiven, I remember apologising several times more than the statuatory three, to no avail. It reached a point where there really was nothing more I could do - I couldn't go back in time and change what I had done, and constantly raking up my mistake had meant no other part of the friendship was real any more. To help us be more forgiving of others, my father used to say that when someone is driving you crazy and you can't help think bad things of them, you have to 'catch them in the act of doing something right'. It is in our own interests to try and see the good in others, and find forgiveness for them, otherwise it is we that end up carrying around the resentment, hurt, and anger.

As we seek to pursue our own teshuvah we have to also remember to enable other people in theirs. We will ultimately hurt only ourselves in witholding forgiveness from one who sincerely requests it, and while it doesn't always fix everything, it may allow us to let go of resentment and anger we are hoarding inside and poisoning ourselves with.


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