Yom Kippur – Celebrating Mistakes

Guest blogger Kim Schewitz writes about the importance of making mistakes:

We worry ourselves sick trying to be perfect parents. We think if we get it right we have the power to save our children from heartache. We long for the perfect career that is fulfilling, supports the family and allows us a balanced lifestyle. We struggle to keep up with the latest diets, health and fitness information, ever striving towards our perfect goal-weight. We process volumes of information via the newspaper, TV, the internet, e-mail, voicemail, twits and tweets trying to stay informed. The pressure to be perfect and do it all is mounting, and our children are watching and taking note.

As if we don’t feel inadequate enough we now find ourselves at Yom Kippur literally pounding our chests for all the “sins” we have committed. Is this really what is expected of us? The answer thankfully is NO.

The Hebrew word “chet” which is interpreted as “sin” more accurately means to miss the mark or target. The Hebrew word “t’shuva”, usually translated as “repentance”, is a misnomer. The word actually means, “return”. The objective of Yom Kippur is to take stock of where we missed the target or went off course, and return to our path. The underlying assumption is that we are all good and pure souls, who go off course from time to time, but we get a chance every year to reflect and return to our innate goodness.

We are the species riddled with confusion and doubt, perpetually trying to separate the good from the bad in a world where the two are inextricably intertwined. It’s not an easy job, and nor is it meant to be. We are meant to make mistakes. Without mistakes there is no insight, no learning and no growth. If we look at our mistakes like a flashlight, highlighting where we’ve gone off track, thereby helping us return to the right path, we can be grateful for them as opposed to beating ourselves up over them. We can throw off the shackles of guilt and experience the freedom and expansiveness of forgiveness.

If we can forgive ourselves, it gives us the space to forgive others. Forgiveness is not something we like to give up easily. We hold our grudges and injustices close to our heart, clutching them like a precious pearl for fear that if we give it up we may lose part of ourselves and become less valuable in the process. If we can give ourselves permission to mess up, perhaps we can extend the same generosity to others and especially our children.

In providing this model for our children, we give them permission to be who they are and free them from the anxiety of making their own mistakes. This empowers them with the confidence and resilience to weather the ups and downs of life.

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Published in Guest Post, Kim Schewitz

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