The question threw me off guard. It was a good question, a great one and I wasn’t ready for it. “How am I supposed to deal with disappointment? How am I supposed to react when the period comes, when the pregnancy test is negative?” What are you supposed to do when you hear bad news? What do you do to deal with news of an illness? Rejection? A big No? Death?
My first reaction is to tell the person. “Move on, go, don’t let this stop you.” But upon hearing the news of the illness of a loved one, upon hearing someone tell me, “Don’t get so upset. You can’t make yourself sick over this-it won’t help the situation.” (And of course she is right-it won’t help anything.) I realized that what I need to do in that moment is to feel it. I need to feel the sadness and the disappointment. I need to allow myself that time and that space. I needed it to be okay to be upset. AND THEN I felt that I could pick myself up and go on. Then I can deal with it and move on.
When a person is in mourning, they sit shiva for seven days. There’s no work, no learning, no laughing. You sit and you cry and you mourn. Seven days. And then you get up. That moment passes and then you need to live in the moment of now, which is the moment of life, the moment of opportunity, the moment of hope and the moment of faith.
Healing and growing is about living in the moment .
I love to go running early in the morning when no one is in the streets. The sun begins to rise and the birds begin to chirp. I go running without any contact lenses or glasses. I don’t want to see anyone. I just want to run and think. As my feet take me along one path my mind wanders and takes me on another path. I run and I think.
The other day with my blurry vision I thought that I saw a woman wave at me. I couldn’t tell who she was-after all I didn’t have my contacts or glasses on, but I took a chance and figured that I should at least smile at the blurry figure ahead of me.
I got closer and she opened her mouth to talk. Once the words came out I recognized the voice and as I got even closer I saw the face and realized that I knew her.
This is life. We are on a journey. We travel down a path and our vision is blurry. We can’t see clearly. We run without glasses, without contact lenses. A test comes along-life’s challenges, and we ask ourselves, “Why?” “Why me?” “Why this?” We can’t see. Sometimes G-d allows us to put on our lenses and we get a glimpse of the real picture. “Ahh, so that’s why that happened. That’s why all this happened…” But most of the time we continue along with blurred vision. And then even though we still can’t see, He waives to us, He calls out to us. “Hello!” The question is, what do we do with the calling? What do we do with the test? Do we smile and try to get close or do we ignore it and continue on our blurry path?
“You shouldn’t get so upset. You’ll only make yourself sick over it and that certainly won’t help the situation.”
I’ve heard this expression countless times. I’ve said this expression countless times. You know what? It doesn’t help. Telling someone not to get upset or telling someone to relax does just the opposite. It makes them more upset and nervous. An alternative approach is to be with them. Support them. Acknowledge their pain and then shower them with optimism. Positive words of encouragement and hope plant seeds that turn into positive actions and outcomes. Gently remind the person to live in the present, to take each moment as it comes and let them know that G-d never gives a test to a person without first giving them the capacity to overcome it. Challenges are difficult. Life is hard. But we are here in this lifetime for a purpose. We need to grow.
I heard from Rebbetzen Neustat that in English the word life contains the word “if”. In modern-day western thinking we think, “If I have this…I will be happy.” “If that happens I won’t be able to go on.” If, if, if. Our lives are dependent on the “if”. In Hebrew the word for life is chayim, spelled chet, yud, yud, mem. The two middle letters, yud, yud, are a name of G-d. When a person is connected to G-d, then they are alive. You are not contingent on any material item to bring you happiness, only closeness and being connected to the Source. This is growth, this is life, this is happiness.
You think that I would get the message, but I don’t and so over and over G-d shows me in an infinite number of ways that I, Elana Mira Mizrahi, am not in control and this my dear friends is very very humbling. I had a week where this message really hit home. I attended two births. Both women were past their due dates and when at last contractions set it and we knew that yes this was the real thing both, like every laboring woman, wanted to know, “When will this end? How much longer?” I smiled, I massaged, I encouraged, “A little bit more and it will be over,” I reassured them.” But really, I didn’t know. I never know. No one does, only G-d.
Birth is a humbling, awesome experience. In ten minutes a woman can open up from being dilated 6cm to 10cm and in ten hours a woman can go from only 1cm to 3cm. There are patterns, but there are no rules. And at last when the baby comes forth from its mother, there is no one, not a doctor, not a midwife, not a doula, and certainly not the mother or the father who is not completely and totally humbled by the experience. We all saw it birth-leida (In Hebrew) is le yad Hash-m, the hand of G-d and in birth there is no other, only Him.
Following birth there is a tradition for the mother to say Psalm 100, a psalm of thanksgiving. Of course one feels gratitude upon birthing a baby, but this psalm speaks more than just thanksgiving. It tells us, “Know that G-d He is G-d (meaning there is no other force). He made us His and we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. ..” Birth is a clear revelation of Divine Providence. You see G-d in birth. You know that there is NO other you understand that He orchestrates everything and guides every event and every occurrence that takes place like a shepherd who herds his sheep.
All the birthing courses now available are wonderful-learning to breath in birth, hypnosis in birth, prenatal exercises for birth, etc. I encourage every woman to learn, be informed, and to do as much effort as she can to make her birthing experience easy and beautiful. I myself did and it helped-tremendously. However a woman has to know that you can plan your birth to be one way and it almost never is the way that you plan. In fact I was never at a birth that went the way it was originally envisioned. Ultimately when the unexpected happens (which is always the case in birth!) the only sure thing that a woman can hold onto is that she’s not in control and that G-d Himself is conducting her birthing symphony.
The Torah says, “You have been shown to know that G-d, He is the G-d! There is none beside Him (Deuteronomy 4:35).” This verse is not just telling us to believe in only One G-d. We know that there is only one G-d. This verse is telling us to understand and to realize that nothing else exists except for Him and that everything contains a spark of Divinity. However the spark is concealed and our mission in life is to reveal it.
When G-d created man the verse says, “G-d said, ‘Let’s make man in our image, in our likeness…(Genesis 1:25).’” Rashi explains that G-d used term “let’s” and “our” to teach us the quality of humility-that the greater one should consult and take permission from the lesser one and if it had written “I shall make man” we would not have learned this most important trait.
Birth is from Him and the salvation is from Him. Everything that exists is from Him. G-d created man to reveal holiness. We do this by getting close to Him, by calling out to Him, by knowing Him. We do this by being humble. We were created with the trait of humility, we give birth through humility, and we actualize our potential and ultimate goal through humility.
I say the words of Psalm 100 with the beautiful birthing woman who I am supporting-with the woman who told me that she was sure that the baby would be born early and the baby decided to make his appearance two weeks late. To the woman who wanted a completely natural birth and who ended up having a life saving cesarean. To the woman who is always late and who at week 38 gave birth in my hands in her bathroom (the ambulance finally arrived ten minutes later). I tell all these birthing women to envision a flock of sheep with its faithful shepherd. “Let go. Let G-d guide you and bring your baby into this world. Repeat after me…”
A song for a thanksgiving offering:
Shout to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with joy, come before Him with praise. Know that the Lord is God; He made us and we are His, people and the flock of His pasture. Come into His gates with thanksgiving, [into] His courtyards with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His kindness is forever, and until generation after generation is His faith.
It’s now the beginning of the week and I open my agenda to see what I have scheduled. I think I have my whole week planned. I think again. Ain od levado “There is none other than Him!” I wonder what He has in store for me for this week and how those sparks of Divinty will be revealed…