Six weeks’ ago, when I was starting to pack up the tiny flat, my kid and her friends decided to rearrange all the furniture. They did a really good job, except they ended up shoving one of my huge, solid wood dining chairs in the corridor-room on the way to the back bedrooms.
That fateful day, I groped my way over to my kid’s bedroom to go and wake her up - and slammed straight into that massive piece of wood. I think I probably broke my toe.
Because we were in the middle of packing, I couldn’t find my helichrysum oil, I couldn’t find my sujok stick, my lentils - none of the things I usually use to deal with these minor emergencies. I was also so stressed from the move (because we still hadn’t found a place to rent, and we also were in the middle of trying to find a place to buy) that I couldn’t really pray on my toe to figure out what the message was.
Because God puts messages in everything, we just have to try and decode them.
So it took a month for the toe to heal up, and it’s still been a bit puffy and sore, but Baruch Hashem, on the mend!
Until that fateful day two days ago, when I stubbed it again, this time against the broken glass top of my oven that had been shoved somewhere for safe keeping.
Let’s be clear, I dealt with this situation with something approaching zero emuna.
I was so angry that I’d just stubbed that same poor toe that I banged the glass top away from me - and it smashed into a million shards. And I had nothing on my feet. So it took me half an hour to sort that particular mess out.
Then, I ended up having to take a kid to school again, like has been happening all year if I want her to actually make it there. And there was tons of traffic and I needed a wee. And then, 20 minutes away from home I got a phone call from the other kid, who had missed the bus to her school that was even further away and was now waiting for a bus that simply hadn’t come in an unfriendly Arab part of town.
So I made a U-turn, drove to pick her up - and quietly started to fume.
Just that morning, I’d written a sanctimonious post (draft....) on how a parent’s self-sacrifice, or mesirut Nefesh, is what really helps their kids to get through their issues, and for their kids’ souls to heal. Rav Arush wrote that in ‘Education with love’, and it’s been a credo I’ve been trying to hold by for the last seven years.
But two days ago, God showed me that yet again, my yetzer was causing me lots and lots of problems by taking things to extremes. Even something good, like sacrificing yourself for your kid, can end up being warped and unhelpful.
After I spent five hours taxi-ing my teens around before I’d even had breakfast, with a newly-swollen toe and a feeling of increasing anger and dissatisfaction, I started to realize that once again, I am approaching a ‘change point’ in my life.
For two days solid, I stomped around my new, bigger apartment feeling really awful, yelling at everyone and everything and emitting ‘dangerous Ima’ vibes.
Part of the problem was that I just realized that while I’d been blaming a lot of issues on my lack of space and cramped living quarters, many of the problems are actually much deeper than that.
I may have left the rented dump behind, but I was hugely disappointed to find that I’ve brought the ‘rented dump’ mindset of constriction, complaint and lack with me.
But life is so good!
So why have I been feeling so ucky the last few days?
The feet always allude to emuna. The feet are the place that the dark forces grab on to, to pull a person to oblivion. That’s part of the deeper spiritual reasons for dancing, and picking our feet up off the floor, because it breaks the hold of these evil forces.
So I danced a bit around the flat yesterday, and started to feel a little better.
Then, I sat down and tried to work out what message God is giving me, and this is what I got:
1) Sacrificing ourselves for our kids, especially our teens, doesn’t mean we give them a ‘get out of jail free’ card. They also have to learn responsibility and accountability, and if the price of missing the right bus because they got up too late is an hour of uncomfortable waiting in an Arab neighborhood of town, so be it.
2) I’m over-protective of my kids because I sometimes get scared about all the ucky people out there. But I need to trust Hashem more, that He will look after them, and send them the help they need whenever they truly need it.
3) I am running myself into the ground by trying to smooth out other people’s issues. Even though I love those other people so very much, this is not what God wants. He sends each of us tests to help us grow closer to Him, and to work on our emuna, and sometimes the highest help you can give a person is to step out of the way and encourage them to take everything back to God.
4) I still feel half-stuck. True, the gashmius side of things is now looking up, Baruch Hashem, but spiritually and emotionally, I’m still dealing with a bunch of things that aren’t really getting anywhere fast, or obviously improving.
5) I need to start going to more Kivrei Tzaddikim again. Kever Rachel is up the road from me, and it’s high time I paid it another visit.
There’s more insights popping up too, but I can see that change is on the horizon.
I can’t carry on the way I have been.