The morning after a disappointing date, I felt myself tumbling down a familiar train of thoughts. It was the same one I always began to go down when things fizzled out. All myI felt myself tumbling down a familiar train of thought deeply ingrained fears and doubts smirked at the glorious opportunity to rule over my mind in a moment of weakness. They attacked me with the overwhelming apprehension at facing the unknown once again, coupled with the fear of returning to the cycle of profiles, rejections and nerve-racking first dates.

That morning I saw these thoughts arise so clearly it was as though, for once, they were a bit removed from me. Usually it is almost impossible to recognize that my essence and true being are not always expressed in my thoughts. It’s difficult to know when my thoughts are concealing my higher, G‑dly self, rather than revealing it. The mind is tricky in that way; it masquerades as you. But really, you are not your thoughts. There is a deeper part of you that must choose what thoughts to have.

So on that dark, painful morning when yet another guy was not “the one,” I had a choice. The first thought that came—unbidden and unchosen—was, “G‑d, I cannot do this anymore. I am done with this dating game.” A true test of faith must have a moment of impasse, a moment where you feel like there is no way forward. That split second is when I saw the train of negative thoughts dangling in front of me. Ah, it would be so easy to grab them and wallow in my self-pity. But I had fallen for that trap too many times. I picked myself up and wrested control away from my lower self. My G‑dly soul, my higher self, retorted in shock: “Give up? Never! I am a Jewish woman who needs to build a Jewish home, and G‑d absolutely has my husband prepared for me.” By the end of the week, I had a date with someone new. Ten days later, we got engaged. The funny part is that it’s not as crazy as it sounds . . .

My brother told his friends, who are not religious, that I got engaged after 10 days of knowing my future husband for the shock value. When he went on to explain how religious dating works, they actually thought it made a lot of sense. The crucial difference is that my future husband and I both wanted to get married before we chose the person we want to marry. In secular dating, marriage is a far-off concept that only becomes tangible after years of casual dating, living with someone and personally coming to terms with making a commitment. We sit down together only when we both know that marriage is our priority. The first date is also preceded by some background research into our family history, life choices, level of religious observance and future goals. So by the time he took me out to paint ceramics at a shop in Brooklyn, I already had the whole lowdown on who he was.

Really, we were just looking for a spark. And that is just what happened.

This must be what the Redemption will feel like. After I got engaged, my friend sent me a voice message. First, she just giggled for a minute from joy and then said: “This is what geulah is going to be like—one moment darkness, and another moment complete light.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe told us that Redemption is here. We just have to open our eyes. I never understood exactly what that meant. However, that morning when I chose hope over despair, trust over anger, and ultimately light over darkness, is when I experienced my own redemption. Opening your eyes means seeing G‑d in every detail of your life and acting with that faith. When I chose to unveil and express my G‑dly soul through my thoughts, I drew down the awareness of G‑d into a place that seemed to be concealing Him.

This is actually the task set forth for us in the Tanya by the Alter Rebbe. The task of the beinoni—a person who is neither wicked nor completely holy—is to refine his or her thoughts, speech and actions so that they align with his or her G‑dly soul. Most of us fall into this category, where we have different motivations vying for control over our faculties. The more we empower our G‑dly soul to run the show, the more light, joy and faith we can bring into the world. This is what it means to be a light unto the nations. It means that the Jewish people will think, speak and act in ways so infused and shining with goodness and G‑dliness that all of the evil and darkness in the world will simply fall away. It is an awesome task, often made up of small moments and significant choices.

The redemption I spent years longing for was to get married and to build a home with the other half of my soul. However, this redemption actually began long before that,G‑d isn’t a vending machine before we even met. Our thoughts are the first step in bringing trust and faith in G‑d into our lives, because our speech, emotions and actions are ruled by what we think. Opening our eyes to G‑d’s love and compassion—even in the most difficult moments—is how we pull Him into a place seemingly devoid of Him. This is how we transform the world. Our task is to choose to think good, to speak good and to do good. It is that simple . . . and that difficult.

G‑d isn’t a vending machine. I didn’t get the soda I wanted because I put in the right number of coins. I spent years praying, doing good deeds and trying to refine my trust in G‑d, and I didn’t see the results I wanted. But now, looking back, I can see how all along I was building and preparing myself for this moment. All the good we do is worth more than we will ever know. This is why I felt like my engagement was a taste of the future Redemption. All of a sudden, everything made sense. I was in a world with my future husband my whole life, yet couldn’t see it; we couldn’t see each other. Then G‑d turned on the light and our eyes met.

We live in a world full of G‑d’s presence, but cannot see Him. When the world finally becomes a dwelling place for G‑d, we will be blinded by His light. And then, everything—all these years of exile—will finally make sense.