Chodesh Elul for Bas Yisroel
ראש חודש אלול. It's that time of year. When I usually sit down and write a list of everything I've done wrong. Of all the ways that I messed up. When I contemplate what a disappointment I've been to myself, my family, and those who don't even have any knowledge of how disappointed they should be, and mostly, to G-d. That time of year, where I'm convinced that there is no way and no point in even trying to do תשובה because obviously I'm just going to mess up again. Isn't תשובה making sure the same mistakes don't happen again? Sad reality that I keep repeating them then. It's that time of year that I generally feel down and depressed knowing that though I may have accomplished something, the harm and damage I've caused far outweigh any good that I could've done. When I get a queasy feeling in my stomach looking at myself and thinking what a faker I am. How I am the ultimate "בת ישראל" living the true Torah'dik life in every way on the outside, walking the walk and talking the talk-while on the inside, dirt is just accumulating. Making me that much "smarter" than everyone else.....that much more "worldly"......that much more "educated and self aware".
Pretty negative way to be viewing myself at such an important time of year...
That's what it has been up until now. Until now.
This year things are different. Not because I didn't fall-believe me I did. But more than the falls - I learned. I learned that ואהבת לרעך כמוך starts with me. I need to love and accept myself first. I've learned that from the lowest can rise the greatest. I've learned that ה' loves me and wants to see me do well. I've learned that people around me care-people who have never met me and don't know me, are there for me. So therefore, I've learned אהבת ישראל. I've learned how someone-someone who knows nothing about me can spend hours helping me through difficult times simply because I'm a Jew. I've seen and learned true compassion and concern. I've learned that there is forgiveness. That life continues. That life isn't easy but it's through those difficulties that I have golden opportunities to better myself. I've learned that what doesn't break me will make me. That sometimes I can't do anything to help or change a circumstance but that giving it over to ה' DOES help. That I'm not in control, that I can't fix and that I can only try to be the best that I can be. I've learned that if I care about others, than I need to let go. I've learned that others can judge but the only true judge I need to fear knows the whole picture. He knows my strengths and flaws, my past and present, my future and capabilities. And with that whole picture He can judge. With compassion.
I've learned that even if things are difficult, that I should recognize that hard times pass. And then they strike again. And then they pass again. That life is hard work, but through hard work comes tremendous reward. I've learned tremendous respect for those who are able to stick to doing the right thing and I've learned from those people self control which motivates me daily. I've learned boundaries. That my family comes first. That I can say no. That I don't need to live in the past being that only what I can do NOW is important. I've learned that nothing bad, no matter how high of a feeling it can give me at the time, can last. I've learned the importance of long term gratification vs short term gratification. I've learned that it's okay to miss those you can no longer talk to but not to let that feeling destroy you. I've learned the importance of paying attention to my gut. Of smiling to others. Of accepting and offering of myself to those around me. Of recognizing my worth and how I can make a difference, and at the same time, recognizing when I cant. I've learned that life is too short to miss out on any time. That it's a journey. That I'll struggle again. and again. and again. and fall. and win. and fall. and fall. and win. Until I win more than I fall.
So this year, this אלול-do I regret? Completely. On the deepest level. I'm devastated and hurt by the mistakes I've made, the losses I've accumulated and the hurt I've caused. Am I sorry? I feel sorry with every fiber of my being. Will I confess? I've admitted to my mistakes. I will confess to ה'. I will feel broken and say a true וידוי. I will use this אלול to grow and think and discover how to make move forward without the self bashing. With self awareness, alongside a healthy dose of kindness. Will I change something? Sure. I'll make a קבלה על העתיד. I'll take something upon myself. I've written it down. I will make a conscious and concrete change.
And then you know what I'll do?
I will look forward, with my head held high. Knowing ה' loves me. That I did תשובה. That I have been given a clean slate. I will daven my heart out for those who may be suffering and allow ה' to do the rest. I will smile at my husband and children and say calmly- a gutten chodesh. I'm 25 years old. I've got my life ahead of me. And I know I'm not alone. I have friends to speak to about the casual things in life. I have mentors who give up their time selflessly to help me in a tight spot. I have a family that I love, no matter what complications exist, and that I know love me. I have children who light up every day of my life no matter how exhausting they can be. I have a husband who is a life partner, guide, mentor and friend. And I have a G-d who accepts me, adores me and wants a close and constant connection to me.
It's time to wake up.
קול דודי דופק פתחי לי