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.