Prayer

The Pain of Growth

Growing pains.

That’s always what they were. As a kid, I’d come to complain to my mom about yet another aching part of my body, and the reason was always growing pains.
It gave the pain some purpose, a sense of pride. I was in the process of growing, becoming older, getting taller.
Eventually, we all stop growing physically, our measurements coming to a slow halt, leaving us at relatively the same size as our 16-17 year old selves.
The growing pains ebb away, and I imagine the reminder of them comes as our own children turn to us and ask us about their own pain.
Growing pains.
So easily explained, so easily understood, so excusable for the hurt we feel.
But as we reach milestones, turn corners, and fall over as we awkwardly grow into emotional adults, the growing pains are so much more unclear.
They feel more like failure.
As we grip our aching soul, the pain seems to have no purpose, for the growth is hard to see.
This week, it is my birthday. I say that not to get a slew of birthday gifts (although welcome,) I say it to clarify why growth is something I’m really focusing on this week.
For what is growth?
Do birthdays mark growth?
Do I look back at the past year, and measure myself? Using what as the yardstick? Amassed funds? Amassed friends? Sweet memories?
What proves that I have grown between last years cake and this years?
To me, it’s all about the growing pains.
Because I have had them.
And while I was aching, there were times I persevered, believing in the purpose of the pain. But there were times I surrendered to the pain, eyes shut, hands up, and let it overtake me.
This year I expanded horizons, worked harder, re-focused, trampled my comfort zone.
I have also cried in the shower, eaten too much sugar, given up, and allowed my self-made limits to box me in.
I’m tempted, on my birthday, to ask G-d to wipe the world clean of challenges, of obstacles, of struggles.
But I fear that I would be asking Him to remove the color, to silence the joy.
I prefer to ask him to allow us to see the purpose of the pain.
To allow us to look in the mirror and smile through the ache, because we know that through our pain, we are painting the world with vibrant colors.
Without struggle, without challenge, there is no depth of joy, there are no intricacies of beauty.
I ask Him to wipe the world clean of endless grief, of grief so deep that the beauty is too deeply hidden to be asked to reveal itself.
But I ask Him to continue to challenge us, challenge us with pushing past our limits. Challenge us with obstacles we can see over, obstacles we know we can overcome.
Allow the growing pains to have a purpose, allow the pain to be only a roadblock, not the end of the road.
Because without growth, we fail, and without growing pains, we don’t notice the growth.
May my growing pains paint the picture of my future, strengthening my foundation, allowing me to build up and up and up.
Even joyous occasions come with growing pains  – adjusting to married life, a new baby, a brand new home, a new career. But these are the growing pains we can handle, these are the growing pains that make us better. That give our world more color, make life richer, that give life more purpose.
And so as I welcome a new year of my life, I look back at my growth. And I mark my growth by the pain. Not by how many days I felt defeated, but by how many days I felt euphoric, having overcome the challenge that had held me back.
And I ask G-d that He give me more of that strength, more of the ability to jump the hurdles, to push through the pain for the most epic of results:
Glorious, colorful, invigorating, beautiful growth.

Blog Post: 25/52

Behind the Prayer

This poem is a journey through Shmoneh Esrei, the Amidah, in my daily morning prayer. It’s about connection, it’s about distraction, it’s about trying. Open up your siddur – follow along.

Three steps backward,
Three steps forward.
the same G-d that Avraham spoke to,
Yitzchak, Yaakov:
He’s listening to me.

Bend, bow, straighten,
May the winds blow
and the rains fall,
and the crops grow.
 __
May the ones we’ve loved,
yet unwillingly lost,
be returned.
 __
Can G-d really return them?
Will he?
There is an itch on my ankle.
 
You are holy,
Your name is holy,
Bless me with an ounce
of the wisdom You hold.
 —
Closed fist,
repentance
I am sorry for not being
the person I could be.
 
Heal us,
Heal me,
Heal the parts
that we don’t know

need healing.

I say these words every morning
Is He listening this time?
Can He hear me?
Did I say this paragraph yet?
Did I skip a page?
My lips know the words
better than my mind does.
 
Hear me G-d,
listen to my prayer
Thank you, G-d, for every gift,
every blessing,
every right side up.
Allow me to strip myself of limits
Let me smile more
Let my dreams come true
May I find the man
Whom I will walk this lifetime with,
May we recognize each other.
Please, G-d, listen closer.
Let this life be one of happiness.
 
Bow, straighten.
Thank you for waking us up today,
For the miracles,
the big ones,
the small ones,

The ones we don’t see.

Please, G-d, let there be peace.
Please, G-d, let there be peace.
How many times can I say it,
How many times does it take,

for it to get to His throne?
 —

Three steps backward,
Bow to the left,
to the right,

forward.

 —

Blog Post: 18/52


2018 Can Be Your Year

Every year, since social media became a part of my life, I’ve noticed a yearly trend.
As each year comes to a close, the low parts rise to the top.
Social media is filled with memories of tough, crazy, miserable experiences we’ve had in the past year.
With the future year a clean slate, people begin to claim that this year will be their year. This year will be the one that goes right. The year they finally do everything they always wanted to do.
But this keeps happening every year.
Obviously, a year is much too long a time to be anyone’s year. Too many days, too many moments to make it an all around good year. And we tend to dwell on the negative, us humans, so chances are, no matter what, as the year ends we will remember the pain.
What a sad way to welcome a new year.
So much hope, so much expectation, so much belief goes into January 1st.
At some point this week I was upset about something. It’s been something I’ve been working for, and it was continuously being pulled away from me.
I was frustrated. I was tired.
Suddenly, I had this moment of shame.
I am so unbelievably lucky.
G-d has granted me so much – so what if I don’t have every single thing I want?
Like a spoiled child, I continuously noticed what I was lacking rather than recognizing the endless gifts.
So I decided to try to re-focus. To put my eyes on what was important. To step back, even if it’s a tiny step, and notice, appreciate and give thanks.
To spend some time each day really thinking about and appreciating the little things, the big things, the amazing things.
Because there are so many.
This coming year may not bring me everything I’m looking for.
This year may not be the year I become the person I want to be, or meet my other half, or make no mistakes.
But if I spend as much time thanking as I do asking, this year will be a step above the last one.
I pray He teach me compassion and empathy without giving me pain.
I pray that He helps me be more grateful for each thing I have.
2018 won’t be my year just because I don’t know what it holds yet.
2018 will be my year because I am alive, I am healthy, I have purpose, I have dreams and I have more and more each day to thank G-d for.

 

Blog Post: 15/52

 

Featured Photo via Unsplash

This year, I pray for G-d.

Dear G-d,

5,778 years ago You gently handcrafted each being, each blade of grass, each solitary piece of sand.
I know time means nothing for You. For You, space is as wide as it is small. I know that You have The Master Plan. But surely, even You could not have foreseen it getting…this bad.
Everywhere I look, there is destruction – if not of physical buildings than of people, families, values.
Those who are desperately desiring peace cannot get through to the protesters, the protesters cannot understand why there are people who seem to be passively allowing the world to crumble around them.
There is so much pain, so much hatred, so much of the ability for us to forgive has been lost.
Costs of basic necessities have skyrocketed, religions are mocked and looked down upon. The rushing oceans are thick with pieces of our lives we forget to be grateful for, beautiful animals are becoming extinct. The world quakes in fear of the next disaster, the next time mankind will strike out against their own.
Hurricanes ravage small islands, earthquakes split the very land we walk on.
It’s as if even the depths of the earth are crying out “enough! Enough!”
Our nation seems to be in shreds, never before so divided, never before so wary of each other.
It is a terrifying world to grow up in.
Yet when I shared this sentiment with a friend, who can always be relied on to see the glass half full, she shook her head.
She disagreed.
She said, “Look how far we’ve come!”
She said, “We have been dealt many unfair cards, yet we persevere as a people.”
G-d, this Rosh Hashonah, greeting You in synagogue will be an exhausted people. Your children are broken. Many have lost loved ones. Many have lost homes. Many are battling wars in their bodies and in their minds.
All are searching. All are searching for You.
You, G-d, who 5,778 years ago, handcrafted each one of us.
You, G-d, who lovingly wrote each word of The Master Plan.
Look upon us G-d, and see Your people. See how we still stand before you. See how we have not let the ravaging waters steal our faith, even when there was every reason to let go.
G-d, You came to us, You were in the fields. Have you not wept each day? Have You not tenderly looked at us, moved by our convictions, touched by our dedication?
As You leave the field, pockets filled with tear-stained prayers, as You climb upon your throne again, allow Yourself to be rid of whatever is holding You back.
Look down upon the earth You promised to never destroy, and stay true to that promise.
We are the people who You so desired.
We have given our all, we have scratched the bottom of the barrel.
We are here, G-d.
And doesn’t that just say enough?
With deep prayers for a better tomorrow,
Sincerely,
Yours.
Blog Post: 2/52

Featured Image: Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash