What prevents us from taking the path of change to better our lives?

Sometimes, it is a fear of the unknown. We’d rather embrace a familiar present, no matter how painful. We worry about where change will lead, even while acknowledging that it can bring a better future.

Sometimes, it is the fear of others. What will others think? Will I be blamed, criticized or judged?

So often, it is the fear of ourselves. We don’t feel ready; we’re not yet “good enough” to take on this venture. We see our flaws and imperfections, and define ourselves through this lens. Rather than embracing who we are and working to improve, we feel unworthy, stuck in the mode of wishing who we could be, instead of who we already are. Our unrealistic striving for perfection prevents us from achieving what we can.

Some 3,000 years ago, as our ancestors became a nation, we were shown how to confront such insecurities.

After their miraculous Egyptian exodus, G‑d commanded the Jewish people to travel towards Sinai. But how? The people found themselves stuck—in front of them was the raging Sea of Reeds; behind them was the vengeful Egyptian army.

Fear created paralysis.

There were those who feared the unknown—a life of Egyptian servitude was preferred! Others feared the consequences of their actions—death would be better! Others were so stuck that they could do no more than move their lips in prayer. Still others considered backtracking, attempting to fight the Egyptians and their injustices.

Undoubtedly, many felt unworthy of G‑d’s help. After centuries of enslavement in the bowels of Egyptian culture, they, too, had slipped into the depths of depravity and corruption. How could they expect to become G‑d’s chosen nation?

And then there was Nachshon, son of Aminodov.

Nachshon wasn’t in denial. He was aware of both the might of the Egyptians and the fearful seawaters—and that he and his fellows were no match for either. He also grasped his nation’s lowly spiritual status.

But his fear of inadequacy didn’t stop him. This was a challenge—a huge one—from which they would certainly need G‑d’s miraculous assistance. The only way to confront challenges, however, is to move ahead, embracing who we are and what we need to do.

G‑d had chosen this nation. G‑d believed in them. G‑d would surely help them to become the great nation that He envisioned. And so, Nachshon courageously stepped into the waters that miraculously split . . .

In our lives, there are times when contemplation is needed. There are situations when heartfelt prayers are necessary. Other times, we must fight against what is holding us back. There are even times when we need to retreat and find a different path towards our goals.

But at no point should we allow the paralysis of fear to prevent us from advancing. We need to keep moving onwards, with the confidence and belief that G‑d is at our side.

G‑d doesn’t expect our perfection, but He does demand our efforts. And our belief that, together with G‑d, we can!