Tuesday, 13 December 2011

How do we turn our will over to G-d?

Part 1/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone wrote an e-mail to Dov:

Dov, I read the Big Book and 'the 12 and 12' on the 3rd step. I was also on the call this morning but couldn't talk because I was with other people... I have a difficulty with step 3 when trying to put it into action, perhaps you can help: The third step says:"We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him". Doing Hashem's will 24/7 is a really really high madreiga. As a frum Jew in a very Yeshivish affiliation of Judaism, this means learning every spare minute, no bitul zman, learning halahcha, mussar etc. davening 3 times a day with a minyan, from brochos all the way through to the end, etc. My point is, that right now, I do none of those things, I can hardly get up for shachris, and to all of a sudden do G-d's will 24/7 with the way I understand G-d's will to be, is kind of impossible. So I'm stuck with not doing G-d's will. I hope you get my point.

Dov Responds (part 1):

Dear Yid,

The point you raise really touches a nerve for me. Many struggle with this, I am sure.

Years before I knew what being 'an addict' meant, while I was a bochur in yeshivah in EY, I discovered the Mesilas Yeshorim. I loved it from the start. He was so clear, so straight. "This was going to help me and give me the clarity I craved so that I could quit muddling through this life and finally learn how to become really Good." I do not mean this critically nor to poke fun at my naivete. The feelings were genuine and precious, a window into my soul. A very muddy window, but a window nonetheless. The mere fact that I sensed within me a real yearning to strive for Truth and Goodness was encouraging. Sort of like Pinocchio, I discovered that I was a 'real Jew'! I learned the sefer with hispaylus and tried to make it the context of my days. I lived in it. It was a beautiful period in my life, though it didn't last very long.

That year went on, and when I got to the chapters about N'kiyus, something started to bother me....and somewhere in the beginning of P'rishus I stopped learning the sefer altogether! Deep in my gut I knew that I just could not keep using this sefer, no matter how great it was. To me, RMCH"L's characterization of hachasidus ha'amiti being rachok mitzi'ur sichleinu, was an understatement.

I felt absolutely certain that I'd never be able to succeed at what he was proposing to me as the the only real life of a Jew. I was depressed to know that I didn't really want to be that way! It would mean no more bitul-Torah at all, no more chilling...no more fun! It may sound petty to an insensitive purist, but I tell you: I was absolutely terrified at the time. Seeing that I didn't measure up was deeply disappointing (maybe Iwasn't 'a real boy' after all?) and I just ran away rather than face up to that ugliness. Mediocrity and a bit of mindlessness is so much less bothersome. Please don't mistake me...I wanted so much to hold onto what I discovered and to succeed as an enlightened Yid - mediocrity disgusts me - but the extremism and perfection I saw in the RMCH"L was just too much. Sure, I wanted to be close to Hashem, but at what price?

1- Perfection? I was terrified of never being able to ever slack off and never being able to just have some fun. There'd be no room for 'me', at all. And I knew I'd fail at white-knuckling that lifestyle.

2- Living as a failure? Mediocrity? I couldn't stomach that, either! I needed perfection! Funny, maybe, but truly an enigma.

So where can an immature egomaniac (gotta do it my way) with an inferiority complex (mediocrity means I am a failure) go?

I dealt with it back then by closing my Mesilas Yeshorim and not opening it up again. Just hide like a toddler covering his eyes so he cannot see you! Till years later, when Sobriety and Recovery (of all things!) invited me back into a safe relationship with Hashem.

So the way I resolve the problem you raise with the 3rd step (really doing G-d's Will) -is with the 3rd step itself! You see, accepting that Hashem really is the Master means finally accepting that He is also the only One who really knows what's really going on in me. He understands me. He knows me and has a plan for me right where I am (see this idea expressed beautifully in the first piece on parshas Re'ei in "Nesivos Shalom", and in every shtik'l in R' Tzvi-Meyer's shmuess'n). He is not uninformed or 'figuring anything out'. He is aware of my limitations even more than I am aware of them. He has patience and will help me grow from where I am. But in my extremist immaturity, that's not good enough for me...