In my Nov. 26 op-ed article, “The Clarifying Truths of Chanukah,” I explored how clarity, purity and joy bring us close to God and to living a meaningful life. If they are so essential, their potential must exist within our spiritual DNA. I suggest it does; we inherited that potential from our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Abraham, the first person to independently discover God, embodied clarity. He also taught us the importance of kindness (Micah 7:20). Clarity together with kindness forms a potent synergy. For example, we are naturally more compassionate to those who we know went through tough times. With clarity comes the realization that we all have struggles; that we all deserve attention, consideration and love.
In addition, when we attain clarity, we focus our lives on fulfilling God’s reason for having created us – to come close to Him through Divine service and acts of kindness. Everything in life can be viewed in terms of whether or not it helps us reach our potential in these areas.
When confronted with a moral dilemma, ask yourself, “Which choice brings me closer to my Father and His children?”
Finally, when we perceive through the clear eyes of the Creator’s Torah, we view each person as one of His children (Deuteronomy 14:1). We are then filled with joy at every opportunity to show our love for God’s family.
Isaac embodied purity through his moral strength – his prime trait according to our sages. To live with purity is to live mindfully, making adjustments as needed. One lesson I’ve learned from writing is that unless you review your work multiple times and ask others for guidance, your writing is suboptimal.
Likewise, if you don’t review your life regularly and ask others for guidance, your life is suboptimal; no better than a rough draft.
Imagine the shame of handing in to your Creator a rough draft of your life, full of errors and omissions. Life’s goal is to hand in to God your masterpiece – the one you were meant to live.
Jacob embodied joy and distilled the essence of gratitude, which is not to take anything for granted (Genesis 32:11). Another one of his attributes was truth (Micah 7:20). Integrity is the foundation for lasting joy; a dishonest person’s happiness in this world is compromised by fear of being caught and pangs of guilt. In the world to come that person’s bliss will also be limited; ill-gotten gains, unless returned, create an eternal blemish. In contrast, honesty leads to joy, both in the world to come – eternal reward – and in this world – the contentment of enjoying the fruits of hard-earned work.
Underlying clarity, purity and joy is the recognition that we are children of the Almighty. When was the last time you felt, as a visceral experience, that God is your Father? To do that, try a technique I call Feeling Affirmations. Read out loud the following indented section. After each sentence, think – how does that feel? After accessing the feeling, as best you can, go on to the next sentence.
I am God’s child. He loves me. He only does what brings me goodness and wholeness. He is always by my side. I am a child of Royalty. My Father is the all powerful and infinitely wise King of the world. Nothing happens without His permission.
If you don’t feel like a billion bucks and your heart isn’t soaring, you’re not there yet; over time you will get better at tapping into the feeling. This practice will help give you the clarity to act with purity, befitting your Divine and Royal lineage. These thoughts will fill you with joy and lift you up when you need encouragement.
This exercise can also lead to feeling more calm and confident; to reaching a mindset where you know that come what may, you will be able to handle the situation and you will benefit from the challenge.
Next time you feel anxiety, reconnect with the empowering feeling that God is your Father. While you do what you can to address the issue causing anxiety, repeat the indented section in a soothing voice, using the Feeling Affirmations technique.
I’m doing my part. This is from my Father for my ultimate benefit. As His son/daughter, I can handle whatever He gives me. I rely on His infinite wisdom. I let go of insisting on a particular outcome. I let go of anxiety [on the exhale, feel anxiety draining out]. I relax into my Father’s embrace [on the exhale, feel any muscle tension draining out].
Even if our worst fears come true – death for example – we still can rest assured that the close of our physical life, whenever it occurs, will be for the highest good of our souls and something we can handle. “Even when I walk in a valley of the shadow of death, I do not fear evil, for You are with me ” (Psalms 23:4).