We aren’t here to cruise
I’ve been clean from shmutz and self-pleasuring for close to 10 years now, but shmiras einayim is something I still struggle with, with ups and downs every few weeks, months, etc.
Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a down. Not that the behaviors became worse, but I recently reached a point of yiush where I felt that there is just no way for me to ever get out of this pit of sexual obsession. It fills my mind and my dreams, and it is just too strong for me. As much as I tell myself that it’s lies and “death”, I can’t seem to ever escape it for long. I keep looking at things I shouldn’t in the street and feeling there’s already no hope.
This morning, I felt this yiush very strongly during davening, and I gave a painful sigh to Hashem in teffila and basically said, “I’m stuck, I give up, I can’t. I don’t see any way out. Only You, Hashem, can take me out of this Mitzrayim.”
A few minutes later on the way home, I suddenly got a terrible muscle spasm in my leg and dropped my teffilin with a yell of pain. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even sit down for the first 10 minutes or so from such excruciating pain. Finally, I was able to sit on the stairs in the neighbor’s building, but I felt terrible pain with every move and felt dried out and faint. I realized Hashem was sending me a direct and strong message, and I immediately accepted upon myself to be extra careful with shmiras einayim for at least the next 2 weeks.
As I was sitting there in pain, my mother came to help me and brought me some water and pain killers, which revived me a bit. We ended up talking and discussing my father’s state now, after his stroke (my parents are divorced). We discussed how it seems that just as life became perfect for my father, the stroke happened. And it occurred to us both, that we know a number of people that davka when their lives seemed to have no more meaning or purpose besides just being “good”, tragedy struck or they passed away. We were saying how it’s clear that Hashem wants us moving forward always, doing something, making a difference in the world, working, or even suffering, etc. and if not, He takes us away...
The lesson struck home. Everything in my life is B”H so good. I only have this one struggle that really gets me, but if I give up on it, Hashem will force me to keep moving forward by-hook-or-by-crook. There’s the easy way and the hard way, and I hopefully internalized the lesson that I may as well work hard on this inyan when all is good, and not need to get ‘petch’ from above. Life is not meant to be a picnic. We can either grow on our own, accepting the yoke of avodas Hashem with love, or it will be forced on to us (or we will c”v be taken away). We are not here just to cruise through life…
B”H, after about 40 minutes I was able to slowly limp back to my home while holding on to my mother and to a neighbor, and after sitting for an hour or so on my office chair, the pain disappeared totally.
I thanked Hashem from the depths of my heart of having given me this wake-up call.
Later that evening I was listening to a shiur in shul and two points were mentioned in the shiur that drove home the lessons even stronger.
- He spoke about how the mitzvah of “hishtachavaya”, which means total submission to Hashem, appears only once in the Torah, at the bringing of the Bikurim to the Beis Hamikdash. It is davka when a person is at the height of his physical success and abundance that he has the mitzvah of complete subjugation and submission to Hashem. Often when all is good, we begin to cruise through life and forget how much we really need Hashem. The mitzvah of Hishtachavaya comes to say, “Don’t wait until things are tough to work hard and submit to Hashem’s will, but davka when Hashem has blessed us with all good we must then submit ourselves totally to His will.”
- Also, he mentioned an amazing vort from the Rizhiner Rebbe on the Pasuk:
עַד-אָנָה, תַּסְתִּיר אֶת-פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי. עַד-אָנָה אָשִׁית עֵצוֹת, בְּנַפְשִׁי
The Rizhiner explains it as follows:
“Until when will you hide your face from me? As long as I keep trying to find my own eitzos to win…" But once I give up and realize I can’t and I cry out to Hashem for His help, then he will no longer hide from me.
And this is literally what happened to me today. Exactly when I told Hashem I simply can’t win this, and I acknowledged that only He can help me, He sent me a wakeup call that really struck home.
I pray to Hashem that the lesson I learned today will stay with me all my life, and that I shouldn’t need further “petch” to wake me up. B”H I have been blessed with so much good in my life, Hashem asks of me this one area to work on, and yes, it can be hard at times, but would I rather get pain, disease, strife, punishments, etc. to wake me up? Or just do the little bit of work I was given with joy? We aren’t here to cruise through life!
You see, so much of our frustration with the struggle stems from our misguided thinking of “Why do I have to work so hard on this? It’s just not fair.” But if we internalize that we are here to grow, and we will end up either working on ourselves the way Hashem wants or we’ll be forced to suffer until we attain what we came here for, then perhaps we will accept our “work-load” with love.