Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Keep Hoping, you WILL get there!

by Dov, GYE, Hoping (See all authors)

'Hoping' asked recently on the forum:

I have to keep remembering that Hashem is in charge and that I need Him to remove my Yetzer Hara for Lust. It should be easy for me to realize how I am helpless without Him, yet I still spend much of my day acting like I am in control. In addition, I find it difficult to daven at times, although when I do daven, it is with a much closer relationship with Hashem than before. But how can I feel that there is any honesty in my surrendering myself to Hashem when I cannot even get myself to daven to Him like I should? I wonder if anyone shares this issue, and whether anyone has any Eitzos:


Dov responds to Hoping:

Dear Hoping,

First of all, we are sober today and that's enough reason to dance - no matter how bad everything else is going, period.

Also, it is absolutely fantastic that you are sharing this rather than just brooding over it - yow! (What were you doing a year or two ago?) I wish I shared more than I do - living would be even easier than it is!

Second of all, with all very due respect to the 'hoping-meister' (sorry), I'll remind you that while you (and I) have been spending the past 20, 30, whatever, years - y-e-a-r-s being focused on how well everybody else (including Hashem) is doing taking care of our needs - so much so that when we feel they are not doing a terrific enough job of it, we self-medicated by using lust and fantasy, etc. to fill in the gaps... So why do we expect real improvement on a deep level after a relatively short time? No guilt here, no blame here, at all. Only room for love here. But may Hashem help us both look at things with more realism and acceptance... Real improvement does take real time - and it is worth every minute. After all, we are in this for the "long haul"...

So... I'll review some quotes from your post above:

You wrote, "it should be easy" - well maybe it's not so easy after all... and that's OK.

"How can I feel that there is any honesty in my surrendering when" - let's take it easy here, shall we, brother in recovery? You obviously have some honesty!

"I cannot even get myself to daven to Him like I should?" - how do you/we know how Hashem wants you/us to daven to Him today? Maybe He "desires" the quiet pain of a davening that "seems it isn't what it should be"... Our success in Gadlus (great frame of mind and spirit) is empowered by our struggle in katnus (when we don't feel anything).

Besides, when you wrote "get myself to..." it reminds me of the times where I felt I should have the power to decree my moods and abilities. Those days are over. I need to remember (see R' Tzvi-Meyer) that much of our abilities and moods are from Hashem. Interestingly, the source of self-blaming for stinky moods and for lack of success in growing, actually stems from haughtiness (that's a big 12-Step "program-principle" that I was struck with early-on, BH! The great sefer "chovas hatalmidim" - in English now, FYI - deals with this quite a bit, from a chassidish/chinuch perspective).

Thirdly, many folks in recovery - particularly frummies like us - report that they feel as though they are going through a "dry period" in davening and avodah in early recovery. For me it lasted nearly three years. Am I trying to scare you away? No, but it took me a long time to learn to have patience with myself, humility enough to accept my limitations, and maturity enough to start taking the more responsible small steps, rather than beating myself over the head with only the big steps!

So - read Battleworn's "The Torah Approach" and other material, and you'll see that when we talk about "recovery", we really mean big, deep and real changes in how we live with emunah and stuff like that. If we had any insincerity and superficiality at all in our davening and avodah before recovery, I believe we can (and should) expect a rather severe, visceral, automatic aversion to insincerity, in recovery. Particularly if it is in the core recovery tools: which are davening and avodah. Everyone has some dishonesty, but as recovering addicts we just can't tolerate it very well. And B"H for that!

There are specific eitzos to improve davening. But that's not the point, really. For me, the main thing is to stay in sobriety no matter what, and to pour our hearts out to Hashem in whatever way we can, as often as we can. The real improvement in the davening and avodah happens on its own, in my experience. So keep Hoping! Just don't make the mistake of dropping tefillos, if you can, nor of despairing, chas veshalom.

"Hoping" this was helpful, and remember - "easy does it".

In response to Hoping's inquiry and Dov's reply, I posted on the forum:

DOV'ev sifsei yisheinim! (Shir Hashirim 7:10). What Dov wrote above should be more than enough, but I believe you'll also find some good advice on this page where Dov answers "London" about "feeling cold in Yiddishkeit" while in recovery... (scroll to bottom for Dov's reply, where he elaborates more along the lines of what he wrote here).


Hoping responds on the forum:

Wow! Thank you Dov for your response. It really helps. This is not the first time you had to remind me to "take it easy", and it probably won't be the last. I guess I just have to figure out how to break my avodas Hashem into small steps like I have been doing with other things, and not push the pace of improvement. I guess I have to practice what I have preached to others, that the direction that I am headed is the most important thing, and the speed of travel is not really under my control.

And Guard - I think that this is the third time that I have read the page you linked to, and each time a different part of it speaks to me. Thank you!