G-d is like a great coach who’s training you for the Olympics. He sets up a training ground filled with obstacles. That is His gift to you. He is really creating opportunities for you to jump higher. He also knows that the higher you need to jump, the harder you could fall. But that’s the price you pay to enter the Olympics. You are bound to make mistakes and fail sometimes. But when you do, don’t despair. It’s all part of the process. Just try again, and keep moving forward. Don’t spend your valuable time beating yourself up over the past, constantly bemoaning all the mistakes you made. Jewish tradition reminds us that great people make great mistakes.
Of course, you must recognize that you made a mistake, and you should regret it and resolve never to do it again. But don’t think that you will never make another mistake. In fact, expect that it’s bound to happen, and no human being is exempt from this. However, we need to remember the profound mystery that G-d is not only our coach urging us to greater achievements, but is also the source of the runner (the soul) within us. And He has a vested interest in the outcome of the race.
Sometime ago I read a book called I’m O.K., You’re O.K. After I read it, I felt O.K. but not great. Maybe I misunderstood the book, but I took it to mean “Nobody’s perfect.” Everybody makes mistakes. So just accept that they are O.K., that’s O.K,. and you’re O.K.
Torah doesn’t want you to think you are O.K. It wants you to know that you are great. It’s message is “I’m Great, You’re Great.” We are all manifestations of G-d’s greatness in this world. We are not just O.K. We are great. And part of our greatness is the possibility to make mistakes, stumble, and fall sometimes. It’s not that we want to fall or try to fall. But sometimes we do make mistakes. No matter how low we fall—even when we intentionally commit horrible crimes—we can always recycle our garbage into the gold of growth and personal renewal.
When we realize this, we will be able to forgive ourselves and we will recognize how much G-d forgives us. G-d knew when He created this world of chaos that the stakes were very high. He created a world that offers the greatest opportunity for an adventure in becoming. Here is the greatest opportunity for mistakes, yet the greatest opportunity for change and forgiveness. Here is the greatest opportunity for hate, but also the greatest opportunity for love. Here is the greatest opportunity for cruelty, but also the greatest opportunity for kindness.
G-d knew the stakes were high. Therefore, G-d forgives us when we make those mistakes, if we are genuine in our recognition of them and work hard to change. The Talmud, the compilation of Jewish oral tradition, suggests that G-d also wants our forgiveness.
Why is the new-moon offering different, in that the phrase ‘a sin offering unto the Lord (Numbers 28:15) is used in connection with it [whereas ordinarily the phrase ‘a sin offering’ is used without the additional ‘unto the Lord’]? Because the Holy One, blessed be He said, ‘This goat will be an atonement for My diminishing the moon [and leaving the creation incomplete]. (Tractate Shavuot 9A)
In others words this offering is not ‘unto the Lord’ but on ‘behalf of the Lord.’ G-d is seeking forgiveness.
How is this possible?
I have a very loving dentist, and as he drills away at my tooth, he constantly asks me to forgive him for the pain he is causing me. And although everything he is doing is only for my good, it’s possible for me to forget that at times and feel angry. And so, too, in this sometimes painful and challenging life of growth, it’s important, for our own sakes, to forgive G-d— even though deep down we intuit that everything that happens is an expression of G-d’s ultimate goodness. The opportunity to rise to challenges, make courageous choices and serve G-d, to manifest divine goodness is G-d’s very gift of life.
Can you trust G-d that everything that happens to you is for the best? Can you forgive G- d when things don’t appear that way?