There is so much build-up for the big day. What big day? You know—like your wedding day, the day you give birth. . . . There’s anticipation, preparation, nerves and excitement. So much time, energy and emotion go into preparing for these big days, the days that change your life, your status, your identity forever. These are days of connecting, of praying, of reflecting.

And then what? The big day comes, and it is totally not what you expected.

A million things happened that you didn't expect or want

The photographer was late, and the food was served slightly cold. Somebody stepped on your dress leaving a big black footprint. Your amniotic sac broke, and you had to be induced after waiting two days for labor to start. You ended up giving birth on an operating table instead of at home, as you had planned and anticipated. A million things happened that you didn’t expect or want.

And even if everything on the big day was perfect, as you prayed for and dreamed of, the big day ends, and then what? Then you have, G‑d willing, a life-time of marriage in front of you, a life-time of parenting in front of you. You prepared for the day itself, but did you prepare for what would come next?

I have a friend who came to me for advice. She craved the “big days,” the perfect moments of bonding and connecting, but would be sorely disappointed when they came. For example, she so much wanted a beautiful dinner and deep conversation with her husband. But last time she planned that, her husband came home in a bad mood. Something had bothered him on the way home, and he just wasn’t into her romantic conversation and dinner.

Another time, she planned a day of fun activities with her son, what she thought would be a guaranteed good time together. But her son was tired and throwing tantrums all over the place. He didn’t like any of the games she suggested and cried and sulked the entire time. Where was the bonding? Where was the connecting?

How was my friend supposed to deal with the let-down, the feeling of failure after having invested time, energy and effort into preparing for these days? To her these moments were disastrous. But were they?

As she described these situations to me, and her feelings and her thoughts about them, I couldn’t help but think that these “disastrous” moments were actually the opportune time for bonding!

Three times a year, the Jewish nation would ascend to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem for the festivals: on Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. Today our Holy Temple is in ruins and, while we don’t have the privilege of marking these holy days in the House of G‑d, we continue to celebrate these festivals. Passover and Sukkot are week-long (or, outside of Israel, eight-day) holidays of bonding, connecting and praying. We dress up, eat lavish meals, visit family and friends and are engaged in the mitzvahs of the holidays. Shavuot, however, is celebrated for only a day (or two days outside of Israel). For seven weeks, from Passover until Shavuot, we prepare for this holiday. That’s 49 days of preparing and putting effort and energy into getting ready for the big day. What day? The day we received the Torah. The children of Israel’s wedding day!

What happened on that day? There was the blast of the shofar, thunder and lightning, and smoke coming from Mount Sinai. It certainly seemed dramatic. And then . . . silence. Not a bird chirped, not a cow mooed, not a leaf rustled. The whole world stood still.

At this moment, where was the communication? Where was the bonding?

And then a voice was heard, and G‑d said, “I am the L‑rd, your G‑d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). The nation heard the Ten Commandments. They were willing, and accepted all that G‑d commanded them. But you know what? That day, that moment, it wasn’t like they thought it would be. It was not as they had anticipated. They were actually scared and trembled from the awesomeness of the experience.

The nation drew back. They kept their distance. What did G‑d do in return? He transmitted the rest of His Torah to Moshe to transmit to the nation. He respected what the nation felt. In some sense, He gave the message: “The big day arrived. Your status is no longer the same status. Our relationship is no longer the same. We are eternally connected. A lot went into preparing for this day. It might not be as you expected, but just know that I am here. I am Your G‑d. I took you out from bondage. We have a long road in front of us, and I will never abandon you.”

I told my friend who was seeking perfection that when her husband came home in a bad mood and she could respect his space, his need for quiet, she could deepen her relationship more than all the romantic dinners ever could. And when her son doesn’t like the wonderful activities she planned and is cranky and tired, if she could go with the moment (not take it as a personal rejection), and be patient and understanding, his relationship with her would be so much closer than if they had played together all day long.

When we celebrate Shavuot, it’s a big day we areWe have to bond, to connect celebrating—a huge day. It’s our wedding day, our birthday. It’s the day that changed who we are as a people forever. And yet, it’s only one day (or two days, outside of Israel). Because one day marks a beginning. And then what? Then we have to bond, to connect. Whether it be in silence or with loud noise. Whether it be close up, or at times at a distance. Sometimes it’s with spilled wine on a beautiful white dress, and sometimes it’s on an operating table. Sometimes it’s when you are in a bad mood, and sometimes it’s when you feel like crying. It’s not necessarily going to be easy, but in the ups and the downs, in the moments of joy and the moments of difficulty, G‑d is telling us on this day, “I’m always with you. Stick with me. Follow my commandments. We are in this together.”

Don’t be disappointed by those unexpected and even disastrous moments. Those are the most opportune times. Take advantage of their power and use their potential to connect!