Living with Purpose

I’m fortunate to live in a rather close knit community. We’re all friendly, we look out for each other, we send each other meals when “we” have babies….(sorry, couldn’t resist that!) Best of all, we women get together from time to time for learning groups. I generally tend to avoid these shebangs, not because I don’t appreciate or need a good dose of inspiration. It’s just that I sometimes feel too raw to be honest in public, and without honesty, inspiration can’t get far. I also would rather get my chizuk from a respectable Rabbi, or at the very least, a like-minded friend. Too often, these women-run speeches don’t cut the bill, and my cynical self kicks in to disprove every sourceless comment they make. Terrible, I know.

So why am I telling you this? Well, shocker of shockers, just the other week, I went. Let me preface this by saying it was a mistake. While I enjoyed the company, dressing up, getting out, and some good food, in the end I came home in tears. Kind of counter-intuitive, I know.

The topic of discussion was morning routines, in particular Modeh Ani. Let me be clear, I love Modeh Ani. In truth, Modeh Ani has had a special meaning to me ever since I was a teen, when one of my dearest relatives simply did not wake up. Since then, I knew – Modeh Ani puts things into perspective, helps you appreciate the gift and treasure of each morning, and allows you to see the chance that each new day brings.

Back to our little group: All was well until one women raised a rather valid question, “well, what do I do when I’m just too tired? How can I be motivated to pick myself up and get out of bed?” Now, I could have said, just make sure to book an ultrasound for 6:30 am, and you won’t have a choice – but then I thought the better of it. After much heated debating, the consensus to her query was: purpose. Apparently, there’s nothing like knowing that a bunch of little munchkins are depending on you to propel you out of bed. Between a husband and children who need you for everything from food to feelings, there’s no way one can’t feel needed, purposeful, and motivated to keep on moving. After all, isn’t that -being needed- the purpose of life?

Whoa. My gut reaction was “Hey, what about me? What about singles? What about them? Why do we need to get up? Do we?” But worse than that was the sinking (false) realization that nobody needs me. Sure, my husband tells me I’m priceless, but he’s a good guy. He’s the one I turn to to pick me up, make me smile and keep me going, and not always does that work the other way around. My kids…?

Suddenly, my work, my schooling, yes even this blog, it all just seemed so silly. So trite and juvenile compared to my heroic neighbours. They’re raising generations for eternity; I’m writing a blog. And it hurt. Now, I know you must be thinking “hey, just read your previous posts. Aren’t you a hero too?” Well, yes, now almost a week later I can begin thinking about it with a clearer head. But that wasn’t happening then.

Once I was home safe, and after much hiccuping (ok, sobbing. Fine.) DH pulled a Mesilas Yesharim off the shelf, and began to read:
והנה מה שהורונו חכמינו זכרונם לברכה הוא, שהאדם לא נברא אלא להתענג על ה’ ולהנות מזיו שכינתו
To paraphrase, “Our chachamim tell us, man was created only to take pleasure in Hashem, and bask in the enjoyment of His Presence.”

DH continued to explain, based on the Mesilas Yesharim, that since this pleasure can only be experienced in its fullness in the next world, we were given this world to work on acquiring that pleasure. And how is this work done? Through doing Mitzvos, and following Hashem’s ratzon by living a Torah life.

This also means that this world is not for pleasure. It also means that that’s it.
This, and only this, is the reason why we’re here.

It doesn’t mean to say that for some, their mitzvos won’t heavily involve giving to their children and building their families. But our job is not to dictate our circumstance, our job is to live with our circumstance in the way Hashem wills it. Our job is to do His will, whether it feels glorious, painful, or at times, just plain dull.

In this way, every single person is full of purpose. Every last person is a messenger carrying out His plans for His perfect world. While we may not all be needed by our children, we’re all needed by Him. No one can replace you, or me, or anyone for that matter – whether or not it’s something we can see in the here and now.

And isn’t that what Modeh Ani is really all about?  – the job that I have to fill, my unique mission. I’m here to do Your will Hashem, and nothing else matters. And that, and only that, is the reason why He’s given me another day. And that’s also why we should all wake up each morning with a bounce and a smile.

Then DH laughed, “isn’t it funny how women will believe anything? I mean, who even made that up? Here you have the Mesillas Yesharim, full of centuries-old wisdom, the chachmas haTorah – and you think you know better?” Chauvinistic remarks aside, I couldn’t help but agree. He was so right. Tell me – why, oh why, does DH always win!? 🙂

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