Rosh Hashana— the Jewish New Year, falls on this coming Friday evening, and has never had more meaning to me than it does this year. Traditionally, it has been taught to me that on the Jewish New Year, all that will happen in the coming year is decided, both for the world in general, as well as for each of us individually. Last year, when reviewing the Rosh Hashana prayers, they spoke of a plague; however, I never could have imagined that we as a people—and as a world— would be actually experiencing one. Usually, dark times seem to have some type of warning through which we can anticipate coming events and prepare accordingly, yet clearly this is not always the case. The question is though: how do we prepare for a pandemic, and how do we prepare for the unknown?
One solution— albeit, a horribly unhealthy one— is to worry ceaselessly about impending doom. While this is clearly an unhealthy tactic, it is also a natural reaction, and when a pandemic, or an unexpected tragedy strikes, it is a natural human instinct that is exceedingly difficult to avoid.
How do we avoid falling into such an unhealthy solution or coping mechanism? How do we train our minds to think positively— especially when evidence dictates that we should feel otherwise?
What I have been doing is completing a daily gratitude list, as well as daily positive affirmations. In truth, I have chosen to allow this time to be the perfect opportunity to learn patience and faith, and I have been teaching myself to trust that the man upstairs— who I choose to call Hashem— loves me, and truly has my best interests in mind— especially in those moments when I do not understand his motivations.
Earlier today, I had an amazing guest on my podcast named Emmanuelle, who shared with me a story that taught me such a beautiful lesson. Prior to her father’s death, this man had suffered tremendously with cancer, and Emmanuelle struggled to make sense of her father’s suffering: Why would such a kind man have to experience such pain? And especially, why would such a gracious God hurt someone in such a manner?
For her 40th birthday, Emmanuelle went on an Ayahuasca journey, during which she unearthed an answer that assisted her in making some sense of the pain her father had experienced. What she learned, was that God was gifting her father an opportunity— an opportunity to teach her and her siblings grace under pressure. In witnessing her father’s ability to maintain such a positive outlook even during the most painful of experiences, Emmanuelle was able to learn a valuable lesson that could only be taught through experiencing his suffering.
Typically, I have found that life’s lessons come to me at first quietly, and then if I do not listen, they tend to assert themselves both very loudly, and painfully. However, it has been during some of my darkest times that I have learned some of my greatest lessons, as it has been during these times that I have really been forced to exercise my faith muscle. If these situations had not happened, it is likely that I would have never been able to see my resilience, or experienced my own personal ability to overcome difficulty. Much of the pain I wish I never had to suffer at all, yet, I would not trade any of the lessons I have learned, and I know I cannot have one without the other.
How do you make sense of your struggles? How do you define, and then limit your suffering? And most of all, how do you deal with uncertainty?
On this New Year, I want to offer a blessing to us all: the gift of clarity. Let us all strive to trust in the process, to find faith, and to recognize that while we do not have a choice of what happens to us, we do have a choice in how we react and respond. It is truly through these trying circumstances that we are defined as people— so let us all cease being the victims that cause suffering on top of suffering, and start being the victors in our own personal stories, living in grace, and in harmony with our surroundings.
Happy and a healthy New Year to all.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
I want to remind all of you that you can hear more on my podcast, Showing Up. We have lots of amazing shows with interesting guests on a variety of personal development topics. It would be great if you could also rate 5 stars, review and subscribe to the show. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/showing-up-with-asher-gottesman/id1489856285y