Latest update: March 6th, 2012
Two columns ago we began a discussion with a young woman who, in her trying circumstances, would have had every reason to give up on life and a meaningful existence. We’ve followed “Debbie” from Moldova to America when at the tender age of 8, her mom selflessly opted to give her only child an opportunity for a better life.
In a twist of tragic irony, the happy little girl was thrust into the inflexible arms of a well-meaning albeit authoritarian couple with rigorous demands; their newly adopted daughter’s need to adjust to a new culture and foreign language seemed not to faze them.
From about the age of 12 through her high-school and seminary years, Debbie would often escape to the homes of friends whose households were more relaxed and where she was free to be herself. Thus, tensions eased somewhat between Debbie and her adoptive parents.
Rachel: Today you are a 22-year old settled young wife and mother of a little boy, Baruch Hashem. How and when did you meet your intended (and is there any advice you would give other girls eager to meet their zivugim)?
Debbie: There was a lot of Yad Hashem in my meeting my husband. He came into my life when I least expected it, and at the precise moment that I completely and fully humbled myself before Hashem, realizing that all that happened before were just tests to make me a stronger person. I accepted what happened to me before and looked for a lifestyle to follow in the future. Within 24 hours of accepting my lot in life and resolving the path I wanted to follow, my husband was brought into my life.
It was right around my 19th birthday, at the end of my seminary year, that I started really thinking about the way I was living life. I finally found the derech and call it my personal Geulah.
Until then, I lived day by day not worrying about the future. I was riding the waves, so to speak, letting life just pass me by; I had no real responsibility and marriage was far from my mind, simply because I knew I was way too unsettled yet to be tied down to someone else. Deep down, though, I knew I wasn’t happy without stability.
Choosing a derech and sticking with it just seemed like the most appropriate thing to do as the next part of growing up. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy journey, but there is no greater feeling of happiness than knowing I’m doing the right thing. I became more confident because I was finally thinking for myself and making decisions that I felt were truly mine.
All of us have positive and negative experiences in our lives. Would you say that your negative experiences have made you the strong, independent and positive-minded person you are today – or would you chalk that up to your nature?
I think my past has definitely made me a stronger person. After all, why would Hashem put me through negative experiences in life if it were not to make me a stronger person? I don’t believe for a second that anybody in this world does not have an experience that can be viewed as negative. ALL experiences in life either make us or break us. Anyone thinking rationally would choose to grow stronger. Each experience is its own battle. I can’t say I win every battle, but I’d like to believe that I WANT to win the battle and continue to grow stronger and stronger.
Aside from the friction between you and your adoptive parents in your growing years, I am aware that they caused you even more suffering and humiliation when they not only called into question your readiness to settle down but were stubborn in their refusal to acknowledge your ability to recognize your future husband. You’ve made peace with them since. Do you harbor any lingering resentment ?
Amazingly, they are today completely transformed – the opposite of what they once were. Today they are the reason I believe people can change their nature, even in their later years. Sure, we still have differences of opinion, but the difference is that they are very accepting of our differences and don’t impose their views on me.
Yes, I’m human and every now and then some residual resentment will surface about “the way things were,” but I believe that this is just Satan’s ploy to hold me back.The way I see it, I can’t change history, but I can move forward. Besides, I do have a hakoras hatov (feelings of gratitude) for my adoptive parents who had taken me into their home with the best of intentions, I’m sure.
It’s a struggle at times to move forward but I do believe that if one is accepting of what happened andtruly believes that everything that happens is purely out of Hashem’s love for us, to make us stronger and to build our emunah, it becomes not only easier to move forward but makes our life more pleasant and sweeter!
Speaking of pleasant, I must add that,Chasdei Hashem, my mother-in-law came as a pleasant surprise. Warm and kind, yet unassuming and non-judgmental, she is the prototype of what I have always envisioned to be the ideal mom.
You’ve certainly come a long way, Debbie, and are truly an inspiration – a model to follow – not only for your peers, but for all of humankind. Your story could have ended on a tragic note, but with Hashem’s help (and one has to want it and be ready to accept it) you overcame setback after setback by courageously brushing yourself off and moving forward in your quest for a meaning to your existence.
Shlomo HaMelech wisely said, “A man’s footsteps are from Hashem, but what does a man understand of his way?” You sought to decipher Hashem’s intent for you and, in return, He helped you figure it out.
I also have no doubt that you impressed Him with your humility, your dan lekaf zchus (judging, especially your birth mom, favorably), and your strong faith and belief in Him.
May you continue to shine and go from strength to strength to enjoy much hatzlocha in your coveted role of aishes chayil, Yiddishe mamme, and Bas Yisrael!!
Wishing you and your family and all of Klal Yisrael a sweet and wonderful year!
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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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