The Subtle Power of Asking Forgiveness

I have, for the most part, wandered away from my churchy upbringing. I am deeply spiritual, but it is closely personal — not something I do in public very much. Since I stopped regularly attending church services anywhere, I have become quite an independent thinker. I’ve grown to question many of the principles that churches teach, and have de-personified God in my minds’ eye. I don’t think of God as a “big person” from whom we ask forgiveness or risk the consequences of his wrath.

Listening to Norah Jones’ song “Humble Me,” this morning, I had a new insight on forgiveness. I love that song — isn’t Norah great!?! I had been noticing all morning that my senses were a little sharper than usual, and as I was sitting in a place of very acute self-awareness, I joined in on the chorus

You humble me, Lord
You humble me, Lord
I’m on my knees, empty.
You humble me, Lord
You humble me, Lord
So please, please forgive me.

When we ask for forgiveness from anyone, but in particular, from God (however we picture “him”), we are humbling ourselves, which is simply that we release some of our ego. We give up a little bit of it, and equally important, we come snapping back very vividly to the present moment. I don’t think you can daydream and ask for forgiveness at the same time — you have to be present, take a deep breath, and say the words. Any time we do that, we release a little bit of the hold our ego has on us. And any time we do that, we become more aware of life’s beauty, of life’s peculiar perfection.

And that must be why asking for forgiveness has a certain freeing quality to it, especially when it is done in Norah Jones’ manner — asking, without desperation. Asking, with a very deep, quiet knowing that forgiveness is certain. Asking, with no attachment to the outcome, just asking because it is the best thing to do. It is acknowledging that something we did wasn’t as we would have liked, or that we know it was inconsiderate or unkind, and we didn’t mean to be that way, that we don’t feel that way any more. Asking in this way just quietly, non-confrontationally turns away from the ego. It is simple, beautiful, and is so freeing.

Listen to Humble Me again. It is such a beautiful song. Imagine that as she sings, you are singing too, and that you are reconnecting with the perfect-ness of this moment. To be humble is to have great strength. And forgiveness is certain.

(Norah Jones singing “Humble Me”)

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