18 = Chai
Not long ago, an amazing warrior joined our ranks. At first, he called himself "Jerusalem addict", but as he got more comfortable in the amazing community on the forum, he started to call himself "Uri". Today everyone on the forum knows and LOVES Uri. He has been fighting a bitter battle against his addiction, but at the same time, he has been posting amazing Divrei Chizuk and Divrei Torah to inspire us all. There is a great soul in this Uri, and although he had a fall recently, he was honest about it and got right back up to continue the journey. And That is the sign of a true warrior.
I would like to share with you Uri's beautiful post/story that he wrote shortly after his recent fall. It brought tears to my eyes:
I grew up a pretty lonely kid. I lived in a neighborhood without many frum people, and my self-esteem (thanks to daddy) wasn't the highest. I spent many a summer day sitting in the park alone, wishing some kid would come over and ask me to play with them. It didn't happen much.
When I was around 13, I was introduced to a new friend; "lust". This friend swore loyalty and constant companionship. And indeed he kept his promise. I had company over the long summer nights, someone to chill with when I was bored, and someone to pick me up when I was down.
As I grew up and started to make more friends, I never forgot about my first "real" friend. That was partly because he had no intention of letting me forget him. But anyway, I had no thoughts of desertion.
I went through my different stages of school, and we got closer and closer, developing such an intimate relationship as none could even imagine. After a while, he began to become part of me. That interconnection only became stronger over the years. Friends were aware of the relationship, but not of the depth of intimacy of it. I even had several girlfriends over this period, only to return home later and spend intimate moments with my "friend".
To make a long story short, I became religious somehow in my late teenage years. I informed my girlfriends that the intimate moments would have to stop. My "friend" wasn't so happy, to say the least. He resisted often and I gave in a lot. But as ashamed as I was to admit it, I still needed and craved my friend's intimacy. It gave me a sense of security and comfort that I did not have without him.
A few short weeks ago, I discovered this website and finally came to the awakening realization that this intimacy and this whole "friendship" was slowly but surely destroying me. I knew what I had to do, and with a firm and decisive tone, I informed my lover that things would be ending permanently. He discouraged me, didn't take me seriously, and said things like "yea, like you haven't said that before". I told him that I was as serious as I could be, maybe more serious than I've ever been in my whole life.
As the realization dawned on him that I was stubbornly set in my decision, his pleasant and comforting demeanor suddenly fell away. I watched in horror as I began to see my "friend" for what he really was: evil. I was shocked and hurt, but this only made my decision firmer. I turned and walked away from him, and I started walking towards a new group of friends, a chevra of Tzaddikim who I had all-too-much in common with. They would be my new friends.
But my friend was not going to give in so easily. He had an iron strong hold on me, and he wasn't going let me get away without a fight. He grabbed my leg and started pulling me down into the abyss; his abyss. I looked down and saw only darkness and death. I struggled in any way possible. But he was all too strong. I felt myself being pulled down. I was worn out and exhausted from my struggle. "Please stop!" I begged him. I was crying tears that had been stored for years. If he didn't drown me, my tears certainly would.
This battle went on for days, one day after another, just trying to keep my head above water. My "friend" had this devil's look on his face, determined to destroy me for abandoning him.
My fight became not about not drowning, but staying in my decision. I counted the days I did not let go; 1...2...3..4... 12...13...14. At that point, I felt I was already drowning, but my fight had changed. 15... I could hear voices in the distance. I recognized the voices of some of my new friends, true friends whose insides I knew contained only gold, unlike this monster who was attempting to kill me. I tried responding, but I did not have enough strength. Some reached for my hand, but I did not even have enough strength to raise it. 16.... "Just keep counting", I told myself. But the fight was coming to a close. The water was at my neck. 17... Nothing else mattered but the number. My head was already underwater and I saw bubbles surface as I shouted with my head underwater "18!!". And as I fell, I finally understood:
18 = Chai - Life!
Death is only temporary, while LIFE is eternal.
"Yaser Yasrani Kah, vi'lamaves, lo nisanani
G-d has afflicted me, but to death he did not give me over"
"Lo Amus Ki Echyeh, Va'asaper Ma'aseh Kah
I shall not die - I shall live, and I shall tell of G-d's deeds!"