We have been discussing how self-understanding is necessary to leave behind the world of blame and shame. Anyone who grew up being blamed or shamed understands the pain of thinking about who we really are.
Maybe we think that the parents, teachers, kids, or whomever blamed or shamed us really did know better. So then what? We still have a survival instinct to defend ourselves, to somehow continue to see that we trust in ourselves – even though we might be wrong in the eyes of others, surely we cannot trust their view alone!
What if by speaking out all of these conflicting and painfully hurtful messages about ourselves to Hashem we could re-integrate our soul and our belief in ourselves as Hashem intends – that we see ourselves as souls beloved by Him, connected to Him, made in His Image, in order that we can reflect His compassion into the world?
Even if we have no connection to Hashem, even if we have been hurt so much that we trust only our view no matter how limited or flawed, is there a part of our heart that reacts? A negative reaction is also a reaction! That reaction to the possibility that we are made in Hashem’s image and beloved to Him surely evokes some response. Listen a moment to that response, even if it is a stone cold pause. That is still a response.
Now talk it out. Keep talking, listen to all the thoughts that come out, all along realizing that what we are hearing come from our mouth is pent up, suppressed impressions from a time when we were dependent, in our formative years. Keep saying it out loud until it no longer sounds true, but rather until we can see there are flaws, childish interpretations, and even falsehoods there.
So now we have a choice. We can trust in the perceptions that have formed our material self, or we can consider that perhaps we really are souls beloved by Hashem Who has given us free will in order to draw His Love into this darkness in our hearts.
Which is more likely? Is it more likely that my understanding is correct and that I have control over what happens next? Or is it more likely that Hashem is in control and His Will and Torah are true and Torah understanding is needed to bring into our hearts and lives some truth?
Even the question reveals the problem – is there One, Hashem? Or are there two, Hashem and me?
Surely we exist. But what is our existence? We understand that the length of time for our existence is not up to us. We understand that what happens to us during the time we exist is not entirely up to us. So what exactly IS our existence, if not the use of our free will to recognize that we can reflect Hashem into the world and choose to do so?
He Who gives us free will gives us real free will, and therefore we are permitted to believe or not in Hashem. Hashem leads us in the path we wish to go.
So let’s examine the options. I can believe that I exist, that I have some power over my destiny but not complete power, that I am mortal, and that if I have a good attitude and thank Hashem for the good, overall I will be happy in life. OR, I can believe that Hashem is alive and that He gives me an experience of life through perceptions in a body, that when I have a painful experience and trust in Hashem, I am able to use Torah based imagery that speaks to the impulses I naturally feel and thereby I can choose my eternal identity based who I choose to be, by remembering Hashem in every moment, with love and awe to reflect His Compassion into the world.
The muscle needed is faith, emunah, and trust, bitachon, in the truth that He is One.
What if everything material is created so that it can reflect Hashem into the world? What if we, by our choices to see our material bodies in this way, would feel light and love filling us with so much inner joy that we understand and appreciate even our challenges and what we can bring together in those moments?
Those of us who were nurtured with blame and shame know how important it is to make sure that we are sensitive to the feelings of others because if we are not, we are likely to get it over the head. If we forget to take something into consideration, we were taught something about ourselves that was surely not in line with being made in Hashem’s image.
And that hurts.
What if we are able to take that painful channel and from the pain itself shine love and light? How can we draw joy into such a channel?
Do you remember that if you multiply a negative number by a negative number you get a positive number? So too, if we have a painful feeling, and we recognize and admit it to Hashem and ask for help, telling Him that we see why we feel this painful feeling, be it a consequence of jealousy, desire or craving for honor, that painful admission acknowledges our faith and trust in Hashem and in the soul He places in our body and that makes a pinhole opening into which light and healing can flow, if we are sincere.
It is the pain of submitting our image of ourselves, our desires, and our longings that heals the pain of what false beliefs torment us. It is the images of a mitzvah or a refinement to a character trait that now can reach into and merge our koach to reflect Hashem into the world through our hearts, in speech and deeds.
May we each begin to realize that we are not here alone, nor on our own, nor in control. May we each choose to see our material existence as Hashem’s creation and our lifetime as an opportunity to take all these resource and create for our conscious self for all eternity something that resembles Hashem’s lovingkindness.
Know that after we do teshuva for all our errors, every moment of effort is what we will have forever. It is the best retirement plan out there.
Want to try out these “muscles” using food taivas?