I had just burned three fingers on my right hand. Thank G‑d, it was nothing too serious. My index finger and thumb healed within a few days. For the past three weeks I have been watching the small blister on the top of my middle finger shrink, and observing the healing process, I believe I have made an intuitive discovery.

First, though, let us return to the scene of the incident. It took place in the kitchen, at ten o’clock in the morning. There I was, assembling my mid-morning oatmeal porridge—four spoonfuls of oats and 3% milk diluted with water, topped with almonds, raisins and a teaspoon of date honey. I put the porridge in the microwave, set the timer for one minute and 35 seconds . . . and waited. When I opened the microwave door and reached in to remove my culinary masterpiece, my fingers barely touched the handle of the mug and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

Why did this happen? Well, the straightforward answer is that all of my cereal bowls comprised an avant-garde sculpture of dishes in the sink, and I couldn’t be bothered washing one. I’d taken a coffee mug and used that instead. It obviously wasn’t strong enough to withstand the heat. I’ll know better for next time, and take the extra few seconds to wash a bowl.

For most people, the story would end there. But I am not most people. I am a writer, always alert for stories and eager to learn lessons from anything, even my oatmeal porridge.

One common explanation or response to this type of incident is kapparat avonot—you are the lucky recipient of G‑d’s mercy. In other words, your transgressions warranted a greater punishment, but the Almighty decided to partially pardon you and reduce your sentence to three blisters instead.

Although I do not understand G‑d’s system of reckoning, this belief seems like a dangerous line of thinking. If I believe that G‑d has already “punished” me, then I’ve paid my dues and no longer need to examine my actions or make changes.

If you cultivate a growth mindset, however, you don’t just ask, “Why did that happen to me?” or simply accept your fate. You ask deeper, more beneficial questions, like “What can I learn from this experience?” and “What can I do to prevent something like this from happening again?”

Although everything comes from G‑d, He has endowed us with a generous helping of free choice and the freedom to make mistakes and do silly things. Of course, we are expected to take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those around us from danger. If we don’t, we might pay the price and get burned, so to speak.

But I think there’s an even deeper lesson here. As I observe my burn healing every day, watching the wound becoming smaller and new skin replacing the old, I know G‑d is at work. I am in awe and deeply grateful for my body’s remarkable, built-in capacity to heal itself.

But does the blister constitute the wound or the healing? Think about it. Where does the healing process begin? With . . . the wound! Adversity, darkness and pain are essential, natural parts of any growth process. While it would be better if we never had to experience pain, inevitably we do. It would help if we had some faith-based philosophy to carry us through those hard times. That’s where my blister comes in. Although life’s events are not always within our control, our bodies possess a G‑d-given power to regenerate themselves. Similarly, with G‑d’s help, we should find the resources within to heal ourselves spiritually and emotionally in times of crisis.

How do I know this? The Talmud tells us that an angel teaches us the entire Torah while we are still in our mothers’ wombs.1 Then, just before we are born, the angel gives us a little tap between the nose and the upper lip, and we instantly forget all the Torah that we had been taught. That is why each of us have a philtrum (infranasal depression, between the nose and the lips) beneath our noses.

But why would an angel teach us all there is to know, only to make us forget it all? And why leave a sign above every person’s upper lip? That sign helps us understand that everything we need to know is already deep inside of us. It is there right under our noses; we need only to tap into that knowledge and bring it into our lives. Just as our bodies instinctively know how to heal burns, our soul carries an innate divine spark that signals the right thing to do. And if we learn how to use that spark well, it will connect us to our highest and best self, the person we know we are really meant to become.

Of course, this process is not always as effortless as a finger healing from a burn. It takes work. And whereas hardship strikes in an instant, recovery can take much longer. But if we try to connect to our deepest soul—and learn to trust it—we can strengthen our connection to G‑d, because He embedded it within us in the first place.

And with that connection strengthened, we can find ways to overcome anything, even if it’s just a boiling mug of oatmeal porridge.