. . . in stormy weather.
G‑d put me on a boat and released the anchor, or so I feel. Truthfully, though, G‑d holds on, and I must not forget that.
G‑d sent me off with rules and regulations for this “game” we call life. “You have a mission,” He told me.
And, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe says, you are born with a mission in life that is distinctly, uniquely and exclusively your own. No one—not even the greatest of souls—can take your place. No person who ever Truthfully, though, G‑d holds onlived or who will ever live can fulfill that particular aspect of G‑d’s purpose in your stead.
I am to stay on course and collect as many “fish” (i.e., mitzvahs) as I can.
And when the time comes, G‑d will reel me back in and see how many “fish” I have caught, what I have achieved and what shape I am in.
I am given an obstacle course that suits my strengths and weaknesses, in order to fulfill my mission. One that is custom-designed for my soul.
“There will be many trials and tribulations,” I was forewarned. “Don’t give up, don’t lose hope; it’s all part of the Master’s plan. It’s all part of the ‘game.’”
Sometimes, my boat capsizes. I find myself totally underwater.
It’s all part of the game, I think. I’ll come through. I’ll be fine.
I emerge from the water—wet, bedraggled, but much stronger.
With more experience under my belt, I am able to navigate my course through the raging waters.
And there I find more exotic treasures to bring back—learning to hold back angry words, to serve G‑d with joy (even when I don’t feel very joyful), to be more patient with others, especially with my special-needs daughter.
I feel stronger, and (think I am) capable of weathering any other storms that will come my way.
But then . . . my Titanic hits an iceberg.
My very close friend, without a hint, without warning, betrays me, totally turns against me. And hurts me to my very core.
I am crushed. Broken. I cannot move forward.
My ship is flooded, wrecked.
How can I now continue sailing? (I think) I have used up all my life rafts.
I sit on the deck, all alone, sad, very sad, and contemplate . . . What now?
I know, G‑d, You are the author of my story. I know You are the director and producer of my life. I know it’s all part of Your grand plan. But this (seems) way too much for me.
I think about the well-known saying of our sages, “Just as one recites a blessing for his good fortune, so must he also recite a blessing for misfortune.”
I know I need to accept misfortune with joy, like the joy I feel when I experience visible and obvious good. For misfortune, too, is for the good, except that it is not apparent and visible to my mortal eyes.
As Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains in the Tanya, misfortune “stems from the hidden (spiritual) world, which is higher than the revealed (spiritual) world [whence derives an apparent and revealed good].”
We see misfortune only because we cannot perceive that which comes from a higher, hidden level of G‑dliness. In truth, though, the “misfortune” is actually a blessing in disguise. And it represents an even higher level of good than the revealed good, since it originates in a higher I have the option of being joyful or miserableworld.
And so, I have the option of being joyful or miserable. And it depends on my priorities: If I view my physical life as all-important, then I will be miserable; but if nearness to G‑d is my primary concern, then I will rejoice, since nearness to G‑d is found in greater measure in the “hidden world” (where the good that is hidden in misfortune is derived).
When life exposes its painful and darker side to me, I need to recall the glowing light hovering above me and within me.
I must remember that every experience I endure is part of my life’s mission to serve G‑d under these circumstances, and to transform the world into a home for goodness, for G‑dliness.
Every morning, when the sun comes out and embraces me with its warmth, I say the Shema prayer: "Hear O Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One."
And when night falls and darkness makes its way into my life, I once again declare, “Hear O Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One.”
The same G‑d who was present during the “day” is also present during the “night.” Darkness is painful and bitter, but it too must become part of a dynamic relationship with life and with G‑d.
My job is to keep the ship afloat and on course on the turbulent seas.
Seasickness? Collateral damage? Betrayal? Pirates? I try to avoid it, I try to fix it, but it’s inevitable. If it comes my way, it’s necessary for my role in this game.
I am now seaworthy. I am back on course, sailing along.
But still I ask, Please G‑d, from now on, only smooth sailing for me.