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The Girl That Was: Chapter 11

 So then why did my teacher ask me, “Do you think that you can control what your brother Shuey does?”


And so began my special relationship with Mrs. Schonfeld.

It became a “thing.” Oh, Mindy is talking to Mrs. Schonfeld again. But in a good kind of way. A joking kind of way. And I valued our relationship so much.

And that question always reverberated in my head.

Do you believe in Hashem?

Yes, I believe in Hashem. I believe completely that the reason that He gave me the life I have is for my good. When I realized that Mommy was dying, I said, I believe I believe I believe. And yes, I still believe.

So then why did my teacher ask me, “Do you think that you can control what your brother Shuey does?”

I didn’t see the connection. What did she mean? I had to show him that I cared. I had to try to stop him from spiraling further.

“But are you really so powerful that you can control his choices?” she asked me.

“No! I mean yes. I mean maybe. Oh, I don’t know!”

“Well,” said Mrs. Schonfeld, “has your intervention helped until now?”

I had to admit that it hadn’t.

“Did you ask Hashem to help Shuey?”


“Do you think the only way Hashem can help him is through you?”

Oh, right. I guess not.

That was something for me to think about. I thought it was up to me. That I had the power and if I failed in one way then I just needed to try something else.

But Mrs. Schonfeld showed me that I was trying to control everything around me. And I couldn’t. But I could ask Hashem for help. And then I could let  go of the outcome, knowing it wasn’t up to me, and never had been.

Do you know how liberating that  was? It wasn’t up to me! Nothing was! I can give it all to Hashem!

And then my relationship with Hashem grew and grew.

I saw that I felt very responsible for everyone and everything. Not just for Shuey, but for Bubby as well. It wasn’t my job, as an 11th grader, to become her caretaker. I had to let someone know that she needed help.

I spoke to all my brothers. Together they arranged for Bubby to have an aide. I didn’t like some of the decisions that they made. But I learned to give it over to Hashem

I remember saying countless times, Hashem, I see that I am trying to control the outcome. But I know that it isn’t in my control. Please help me know that I did my best. Please take away my self-doubt and niggling thoughts about whether or not I did all I could do.

I learned to let go of what I had no power over.

I was so sad when Shuey decided to leave yeshiva. But I knew that there was nothing I could do to change it. I could  only daven. Mrs. Schonfeld helped me understand that we all have our own paths in life, and this was Shuey’s. He was making decisions that may not have been best for him.  I couldn’t control his decisions. But I could always ask Hashem to help him.

I also couldn’t control my financial reality. As a high school girl, there was only a certain amount of money that I could earn by babysitting. I came to understand that I was trying to control my finances by taking every single babysitting job that came my way, no matter what.

My teacher helped me to see that constantly being out of the house, and not being home enough to help my sister-in-law, wasn’t necessarily the right thing for me to do.

“Maybe,” she said in a gentle voice, “you are playing Hashem, thinking that the money comes from your jobs and not from Him.”

I didn’t like that at all. I argued with her on that one. I mean if I didn’t babysit then I wouldn’t have money. I was trying to save up for camp and with summer coming up I needed a whole new wardrobe.

But her words penetrated. When I saw that Baila was expecting and wasn’t feeling well, I realized that the right thing was for me to stay home and help her out more.

Then I davened and said, “Hashem, please help me know that if I can’t get that skirt or don’t have enough spending money for camp, it is because of Your Will, not because I did or didn’t babysit.”

It was a whole new way of thinking for me. Sometimes it was really hard. Other times it was really empowering.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 928)

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