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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Our Friend, Adversity


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It is painfully difficult to start and end the hectic day seeing my daughter wander, almost lifelessly, from room to room and sibling to sibling with no desire to venture out into the scary world of society. With her bundle of strengths and weaknesses, and despite my countless pep talks, our 27-year-old daughter chooses to spend most of her time in the comfort and safety of our home. That is until recently, when terrible loneliness finally pushed her out the door.

With many children in the family, our daughter could always manage to find a sibling, at one point or another, throughout the day to hang out with indoors. Her minor attempts in childcare employment were sporadic, as hurtful memories of jobs gone sour haunted her. She felt paralyzed and refused to take another risk at entering the workforce.

I decided to seek help from a kind community social worker who gave freely of her time away from her busy schedule to help improve our daughter’s quality of life. Meanwhile, during the summer months, two younger daughters traveled to Los Angeles and a younger son went away to overnight camp – leaving our older daughter painfully lonely.

Over and over again she called me at work and I would urge her to at least volunteer at the Center for Special Children, where she had once worked part-time in the afternoon so she would not have to be alone. Finally, one morning it happened. With the quiet at home too much to bear, my daughter called me to say that she was taking a taxi to the Center. I was overjoyed. The only thing worse for her than the challenge of being around other people was being absolutely alone at home.

The following days were filled with trepidation for all of us. Would she give up or would she forge ahead? Would the memories and fears destroy her desire and courage, or would she be able to take the risk and continue to show up at the Center? Would she be able to function despite the pains in her chest and the fear in her heart? I spoke to the directors at the Center a few times, encouraging them to make sure our daughter knew how much she was valued and liked. I bought her new clothes and coffee drinks to encourage her. She even went out to dinner with my husband and me on our wedding anniversary so we could help build on her success.

Baruch Hashem, a wonderful thing happened! She thought of bringing her keyboard and offered to play and sing for the children. They loved it. She was an instant success. Seeing my daughter smile and hearing her happy voice report the experiences at the Center are more nachas than I could have ever hoped for. It is a new life for us.

Adversity forced our daughter to confront the absurdity of doing almost nothing all day and relying too much on others for her own satisfaction. Hardship can lead to growth and change. Not everything should always be pleasant and easy. If we are to reach our potential we must be prepared to take adversity by the hand and see what is being asked of us. This is also help from Above, sometimes the best help of all.

I daven that my daughter will continue to play her many self-taught songs on the keyboard, which will give her the wonderful satisfaction that she has something worthwhile to contribute. Her joy lifts our family higher. May Hashem continue to guide us and help us achieve what we have been uniquely created to accomplish.

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One Response to “Our Friend, Adversity”

  1. There are a lot of factors that go into how someone sees the world. As research continues to evolve in social science and psychology we are finding heredity plays a major role. Also, we are a product of our environment. The more success we have, the more confident we are when we embark on new challenges. I can relate to this story because I am living it right now. A few years ago I got fired from a job I had for over six years. and before that I struggled with employment. Sometimes old feelings come back that causes me great stress and frustration and pain. Several years ago I made the decision to go back to school. This to was a challenge. When I was younger I was a poor student, mainly because I didn't want to study. But, as an adult I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my life. In both cases, these experiences left me with low self esteem. I graduated but don't feel I am capable of performing the responsibilities of a more professional job. This only makes a tough situation even harder because I have to battle my demons. I agree that adversity can help you grow as a person. But, if we have too much adversity and not enough positive experiences it can also have a devastating effect. I used to have a friend who seemed to be perfectly satisfied with his vocational life, he didn't experience the strife I did and many times I thought it would be easier to go through life being more content and satisfied. On the other hand, there may come a time that when my friend looks back on his life and regret not doing more. I hope the author's daughter will begin to have more positive experiences and build on her emerging success so she can have a life full of joy, meaning, and productivity.

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