I once counseled a blended family that was being ripped apart by a teenage girl who irrationally hated her stepfather. While her mother, after being alone for some years, had found companionship and love with her new husband, she felt torn between her role as mother and wife. I stayed with the family for a day and saw that while her mother prepared dinner and set the table, the girl sat on a couch with her IPod ear buds in her ears and painted her toenails. I asked to speak to her.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be a fashion designer,” she answered.
“That’s not what I asked. I asked you what you want to be, and you answered about what you want to do.”
“What are the choices as to I want to be?,” she inquired.
“Only two,” I said. “You can either be a good person, or a selfish one.”
“I want to be a good person,” she said.
“Then how is it,” I asked, “that I just watched you turn your mother into your maid?”
She thought about the question and said she didn’t know. “I’ll tell you,” I said. “Each of us is born with an inner voice that tell us to be a good daughter. To open our hearts to other people’s needs and wants. Your mother wants to be a loving parent, but she is also a woman and does not wish to be alone. You love you Mom and your heart tells you to be there for her, offer her comfort for the painful she’s endured, and generally make her life easier. But there is so much foreign noise in your life that you have no peace with which to hear your true voice. Turn off the music. Listen to your mother when she asks you to help around the house, and listen to her silent plea to support her in her new relationship.”
It’s amazing how when all the ribbetting is silenced, we begin to hear an old, familiar tune: the melodious song of our own souls.
About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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