I got to shabbat still feeling strangely OK about everything, despite the fact that a couple more other big challenges then happened after I lost the book (and I only lost the book on Wednesday, which shows you how fast things seem to be moving.)
But somewhere deep down, I still had this nagging idea that though I was coping pretty well with all the difficulties G-d has sent me recently, there was no getting away from the notion that by any measure, I seem to be a big 'loser' at the moment.
(My kids came home with this horrible song a few months ago, where they make the shape of an 'L' with their thumb and index finger, then stick it on their forehead and go round telling people: 'Loser! Loser! Double Loser!' Me and my husband have been hearing them sing that ditty to each other (and us) with a wry smile for the last few weeks... but I digress.)
So anyway, I decided to go down to the Kotel on shabbat morning, with a copy of Rav Shalom Arush's 'Mayan Ganim' in Hebrew, which is a compendium of all the best bits of advice from his 'Garden' books. I needed to get some clarity about what G-d wants from me right now, because everything I've tried recently has ended in complete and utter failure. I opened it up randomly to page 100, and this is what I read (roughly translated from the original Hebrew:)
“In practice, a person's level of contentment and happiness are his real certificates of success in his life. If a person is happy and content with his lot in life, that's true success.”
Amazing! All of a sudden, my perspective on life in general, and my life in particular, did a 180. OK, things are really not succeeding on almost any level in my life right now, but I'm not getting down about it, I'm not beating myself up about it, or falling into sadness and depression and feeling really sorry for myself – and that's the true level of success, at least, according to Rav Arush (and he knows what he's talking about.)
I got so fired up with the idea that I'm spiritually succeeding, despite all my myriad external failures, that I actually spent 10 minutes making myself a certificate, which I want to frame and hang on my wall, to remind me that true success is waking up every day, and having a smile on my face.
Then I had a brainwave: dear reader, you are also a spiritual success, and you also deserve a certificate! Anyone who is still trying to grow, still striving to improve, still trying again, and picking themselves up off the floor, in the face of the excrutiating tests of emuna that we're all going through right now, deserves a certificate.
So G-d helped me to turn it into a PDF, which I'm sticking up here (which is a mini-miracle all by itself). Print it off, fill it in and go and get it framed. G-d loves you. G-d thinks you're an amazing success, regardless of how badly you feel you're failing.
Who isn't falling down, in some way or other, at the moment? But standing up again? Still believing in G-d's goodness – and your own! - every time you repeatedly hit the dust? Now, THAT deserves a medal. Or at least, a certificate. So print yours off, and hang it proudly somewhere it'll make you smile.
Because we're not really losing right now, regardless of how it looks; we're just developing the spiritual skills we need to truly succeed.