You know those really annoying happy people? Oh come on, you know the type – that annoying girl who walks around with a permanent huge smile on her face, and talks about how life is great and nothing can be bad… everything is upbeat, and even when things are not so hot, she responds with even more pep: “its meant to be!” or “this is all part of a master plan – it will work out – so be happy!” Yeah yeah, we all know someone like that, and we ALL want to strangle them and watch their little eyes bug out.
Well guess what?
I used to be one of those people.
In high school I was THE happy person. I had this attitude that G-d was in charge of the world, and He had this grand master plan, and therefore since nothing is coincidence, it means G-d gives us challenges He knows we can handle and so therefore A+B=C, we should all be super happy! And that’s exactly how I was, day in and day out – I was sincerely and truly happy with my lot in life.
Well, little did I know that I didn’t know anything! How much hardship did I REALLY personally experience to fully grasp those concepts? Did I ever have to put those ideologies to the test to see if I really believed them, or if it was just things I learned along the way and knew the right spit back answers? Nope. Not the case… in many ways I was innocent… naïve perhaps … yeah we all have hardships, we all have stories and baggage from our childhood – but I really believe that back then when I was “super happy girl” – I really didn’t know anything about real life.
So fast forward to today.
Today I can say I’ve seen more… I’ve experienced a lot more than many friends my age have. On the flip side, I can thankfully say I haven’t experienced too many difficulties, but I’d like to believe I have had a fair amount 🙂
And now, I am able to test out ALL those wonderful little lines I knew so well back in high school. “G-d gives us what we can handle.” And “its all for a reason.” And “smile because G-d takes care of us…” etc etc etc. Sadly, I say that I have failed the test. Although I remember my learning well (I have always been a good student), although I can proclaim them out loud, it seems that the deep rooted faith that used to be there is no longer. That faith that filled me is suddenly empty… well, it feels that way. I sometimes rehearse those same sayings – but somehow they feel light and weightless – just words I say to help get me through a bad day. But do they last? Not really – they are fleeting and don’t help as much as they used to.
What is a girl to do ? Does that mean I never believed those things to begin with? Does it mean my teachers superficially imparted lessons – but on a practical level – they don’t apply? And what does it say about my faith and religious system if when we need it the most, it doesn’t help?
The truth is, I don’t really have answers – because if I did, I’d probably get my faith back as strong as ever and once again be that happy go lucky peppy girl one more… but the REAL truth is, that its not possible. That happy go lucky, annoying, peppy girl is the real superficial one. She wasn’t the one who had the answers – yes sometimes it feels as if she had such strong faith, and it is I that is struggling – but that’s not the case. That girl with the plastered smile on her face was never given the opportunity to test her faith, so what can it be worth? It is I who is being tested – and although I feel as though I have failed – the fact is that when I DO pray, and when I DO turn to my faith, it is from a much deeper place than ever existed before, because its that adversity that allows us to be in touch with those deep and dark recesses of our souls. The places within ourselves that are scary – the places we never even knew existed !! But the adversity forces us to go there – and even though we might feel as if we’ve lost all faith we ever had, the truth is that its then our faith is shining most.
Allow me to digress for a moment – and maybe this will help clarify.
We all know the famous saying to “Educate the child according to his way, even in his old age he will not turn away from it” (Proverbs 22:6). There are many explanations and opinions about this famous Proverb –I’d like to throw in something that I once learned based on this saying.
Life is like a ladder. And metaphorically speaking, we are always moving, either up a rung, or down a rung. Obviously we always want to move forward and upward towards our goals and dreams, but sometimes for whatever reason, we take a step or two (or three) down the ladder. But, and here’s the interesting thing about our ladder analogy – when we’ve put our foot on the rung – whether we’ve moved up or down – we are stable. The rung is firm, and holds our foot – and are no longer in a precarious position. It is when we have moved our foot to change rungs – that’s when the danger is – because we are in between, and nothing is holding our foot. We are literally suspended mid air until we reach the next rung.
The lesson? Quite simple. We are told to “educate a child” – teach the kid those lessons. Impart those wonderful lessons faith and happiness and G-d’s master plan – and even though the child is naïve and innocent and hasn’t yet come to question those teachings, it doesn’t matter because they have been instilled in him. “Even in his old age…” When the times are tough, when we are most precarious – when we are in the middle of moving on the ladder – and our faith is wavering. We’re not sure who we are, or what we believe anymore and are grappling with our existence – THIS is when suddenly those lessons that we learned so long ago – those beliefs and values and simple childlike faith that we once had – THIS is when we need it, and this is when we will surely be able to find it because we know its deep down within us.
We are in the middle of changing rungs on the ladder and we feel scared because we aren’t stable, and who knows what will happen? But we don’t need to fear, because we know that faith will be with us when we need it the most.
Is that easier said than done? Hell ya … I’m not simple minded and idealistic. I am fully aware that its not always as simple as that… but at least we can feel lucky and blessed to have been given a certain foundation… an upbringing teaching us how to rely on our faith in times of difficulty.
Granted, I’ll never be that happy- annoying –preppy girl ever again… but in reality, isn’t it better that way?