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G-d, Forgiveness and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 19, 2007


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Forgiveness
By Jay Litvin
————-

“These were the days before Yom Kippur. I was lonely and couldn’t figure out why. The loneliness had been there for months.

Things were good with my wife and kids. I’d been on the phone with my sisters and in close contact with my friends.

So, what was the source of this loneliness?

I was missing G-d.

I was and had been feeling distant from Him. A strange feeling for me. Even in my late teens I had been able to connect with Him when I needed to. He always answers my calls. Sometimes I don’t even need to call. I just feel his companionship as I journey through life.

But these last months had been lonely. I had been separate from Him, unable even to call out. And I didn’t know why.

Just before Yom Kippur, I received an e-mail from a friend. He’s not a religious Jew, though we discourse often about G-d and Torah. He’s a writer and has a way with words. We also share the same disease, and talk much about our symptoms, history, fears, treatments and aches. There’s a special something that happens with people who share the same disease. We never have to worry about boring each other. All our concerns and obsessions about the daily changes in our health or symptoms, our latest internet discoveries about new cures and clinical trials may bore others, but are continuously fascinating to us.

At the end of this email my friend wrote: “Jay, this Yom Kippur, I don’t think you should go to shul and ask G-d for forgiveness. This Yom Kippur you should stay home and G-d should come crawling on His knees and beg you to forgive Him for what He’s done to you.”

When I read these lines I laughed. My friend is a sacrilegious provocateur. He believed what he said, but he mainly wrote those words to shock me. I filed his words, but paid them little attention.

As Yom Kippur drew close, I continued to wonder what was taking place between G-d and me. I worried that this day of prayer and fasting would be void of the usual connection that Yom

And then in a flash I realized that I was angry at G-d. And had been for some time. I was angry about my disease and I was angry that I was not yet healed. I was angry about my pain. And I was angry at the disruption to my life, the fear, the worry and anxiety that my disease was causing my family and those who loved and cared about me. I was angry about the whole thing, and He, being the boss of everything that happens in the world, was responsible and to blame.

And so, I entered Yom Kippur angry at G-d.

I put on my kittel and my tallit and I went to shul.”(excerpt from very long article)

I can’t help but feel that this is very apt for me, and I am sure for many in Recovery – one reason we have trouble working the Steps that includes G-d. We are angry with G-d, we feel that G-d has deserted us, cheated us, let us face all kinds of horrible things alone, and you know what?

He has. We have every right to be angry at Him.

But that is not the end of the story. Eventually we realize that what we have been through, as horrible as it was (and still is for many) it has also made us the persons we are today. We have picked some very useful skills, that perhaps originally were meant to protect us as children. Most of what we learned as children is not useful to us as adults.

Hyper vigilance f.i is not useful – but if we look at hyper vigilance we see that trimmed down to functional levels through the Program, it is nothing but a very keen sense of observation, an eye for detail and context – that is useful.

My wife said that being bullied in school has taught her compassion.

My need for control has resulted in a very neat skill – I can read virtually any document up-side down. Being dyscalculic has given me a very good memory for numbers. The fact that my caregivers never bothered to teach me things means that I have a knack for learning by watching others do, this helps me when I need to learn complicated sequences, something I have trouble with because of my dyscalculia.

So while G-d let us go through all the crap, and it wasn’t fair, and we have every right to be angry with Him, at one point or other we have to let G-d off the hook for His shortcomings, because it has made us who we are – and who we are is good, perfectly imperfect and as it should be. As much as we need G-d to reason with us, as much do we need to reason with G-d, so that scarlet and crimson can become snow white and as wool (Yeshayahu 1:18)

The Days of Awe and Yom Kippur is as good a time as any to start.
Amen

copyright Henric C. Jensen

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One Response to “G-d, Forgiveness and The Days of Awe”

  1. Last year I went into the High Holy Days furious with God. Somehow I made my peace beforehand and the whole season was one of beauty and enlightenment. This year I’m not angry.

    Last year a young man whose father had committed suicide some months prior celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. His parashah was Breishit so he wanted to talk about how creation had gone from very good to all bad. Rabbi talked with him and the young man instead spoke about God’s disappointment with creation, how God didn’t know it would turn out that way either. I like the picture of a disappointed God. I can relate to this God. God really thought things would be better but because God gave humans free will, God can’t keep all the bad at bay. I think I have a more understanding view of God now. It’s a tough gig being God. When good happens people take all the credit, when bad happens God gets the blame.

    Like

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