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Finding Thanks

About four years ago, I was dealt a huge blow in the form of a personal crisis from Heaven. The blow not only sucked the color from my life, but knocked me down to the ground. My life had unraveled at the edges, and I saw no way out. I was messed up. There was no help, they said. My husband and I would never be parents.

From the ground, I looked up at Hashem, first in confusion, then in anger, then in plaintive grief. Hashem, how can you do this to me? I thought. I’m Your daughter, You’re my father! Is this the way to treat a daughter? I don’t deserve this!

The pain was crushing. My life was in shambles. I couldn’t build anything on the ashes. I just mourned what could have been.

On the darkest days I would turn to Hashem in song, a medium I’d always used for connection. In the loneliness of dinner prep in the kitchen, I sang “Shir hamaalos mimaamakim kerasicha” and “Mizmor l’Dovid Hashem roee lo echsar” especially the words “Gam ki eleich bgai tzalmaves lo ira ra ki Atah imadi — Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid, for You are with me.” I felt the words caress me.

And yet I still felt alone in my grief. My nights were bitter, my days filled with gaping emptiness, inane chatter, and meaningless solace.

Two years ago, in Elul 2016, my husband bought a pamphlet entitled Amarti Todah, Venoshati (I Said Thank You, and Was Helped). A spin-off of the popular “I lit a candle for 40 days and was helped” or “I said Perek Shirah for 40 days and was helped.”

“Don’t get all spiritual on me,” I told him. “I can’t handle it.”

But he wanted me to read it. I didn’t have anything to lose because I had nothing. So I read the pamphlet from cover to cover. I was scornful.

My husband began listening to Emunah Daily by Rabbi David Ashear on Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Chazak Hotline on speaker phone each night after dinner. I was skeptical.

At night, before he entered the house, he sat on the patio bench and thanked Hashem for 50 chasadim he had merited that day. I saw the light in his eyes. Then I was hopeful.

“Try just a bit!” he coaxed.

From my spot on the ground, I looked about. Like peering into a tremendous fog, I searched for light beyond. And light I found.

In lieu of mourning and praying and wallowing in my pain, I was on another mission.

I mentally reviewed my day each night. At first, all I thought of were those choking sensations and the gasping, gaping emptiness in my heart and all the things that could have been. But then, I saw trickles of dawn.

Thank you Hashem for my two hands
I have two feet that help me walk
I have a mouth so I can talk and eat
My spine keeps me upright
The weather today was gorgeous
The chicken for dinner came out amazing

It was a modest start. The next night, I aimed for enumerating 25 chasadim I’d received from Hashem.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 617)

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