One part of me lives as though something scary is just waiting to whip its head out from around the corner up ahead. This part of me believes that life is a messy and scary place, and that things don’t work out as you wish; that there is no real lifeline to G‑d on thisLife is a messy and scary place plane. (Thanks to years of therapy, I’m able to separate from these thoughts, and I even understand perfectly well where they come from. I can have empathy for the little girl inside who went through frightening times without someone or something solid to support her.)

Another part of me sees life from a bird’s-eye view, and knows that although things were frightening, they worked out, and I was in fact being guided to a more beautiful place. That G‑d was with me every step of the way—even when it seemed disappointing, unsettling, sad or unfair. Sitting in this position, as if on a treetop, with a wide and clear perspective, I look back in time.

I see my older brother, someone I really looked up to. When he moved out, for his own complex reasons, he didn’t answer or return my phone calls or initiate contact. I felt hurt, abandoned, unappreciated and confused. I feel the pain even now, and then move back to my treetop and begin to see a sliver of light. Subsequently, the choices he made are not in line with my current values and aspirations, and so had he been available and been my hero, my life might have taken a very different path, one not for the best.

I move in time to the day after my other brother’s marriage. The day before, he had been as always—emotionally available, sweet and loving. But this day, he was closed and distant. Just 16 at the time, I was shocked and undone. I saw that nothing was certain, and that you can’t depend on anyone to remain consistent. But here, up high, I see how it forced me to find my strength and proactivity as I chose to confront him. His response of denial was not what I would have wished, but what I did learn was who I am, and I could rest knowing that I had taken the initiative and tried.

I think also of being “forced” to play the role of middleman between two people I loved who did not speak to each other. What blessing could there be in such a heavy role and position at such a young age? Just thinking about it, I feel renewed anger and despondency. But I come back to my aerial view, and I see that it actually fueled in me the need to learn and exercise gevurah (discipline) and boundaries. Eventually, I realized that I had a choice and could refuse to play this role, and that saying “no” was a healthy and necessary thing to do.

The undercurrent of fear that I live with is understandable. But surprisingly, sitting up here, I find blessing, yeshuah (salvation from G‑d) andSurprisingly, I find blessing in the pain perspective in the pain. In this seat, I know that even now, when things appear bad, they are good and really for my best. Here, I agree with the teaching of our sages, Gam zu letovah (“This, too, is for the good”), in line with the well-known expression I grew up with: Every cloud has a silver lining.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the mandate of the whole of creation is stated almost immediately. Though it is commonly translated as “Let there be light,” the Rebbe said to read it instead as, “It should become Light.”1

I cannot speak for people who have lived through unspeakable horrors, and in many such cases, perhaps there is only the possibility of comfort in the belief that this world is not all there is—that there exists a far bigger picture. Perhaps in such cases one needs to see from so much higher than just a bird’s-eye view. But in my little life, I am invigorated to discover that there is light within the things I once saw only as dark.