Thursday, October 11, 2012

Take a second look

I looked in the mirror.

Here I am.

A young married woman. Wearing a headscarf. Wearing a long sleeved shirt, long skirt, and socks, in the hot summer-like weather.

What do I do? I learn. I daven. I work. I do laundry. I cook. I clean.

I pictured myself...for just a split second...
not on this path. Scary thought.

Who would I be? How would I act? What would I look like?

What are most 20-something year old not-yet-religious or not Jewish gals, my age, doing at this point in life?
Learning: college. Masters. PHD. Pursuing a career.
Partying at night and wearing the latest fashions.
Food is take out or instant soup or cereal.
Laundry? HA! I have no clue how to do laundry. It gets sent out once a month or her mom just does it.
Marriage isn’t really on their mind. Having kids and raising a family definitely isn’t on the list until age 30. At least!
I know. Some of you are thinking about the exceptions to the rule – hey how about this girl I know? She’s not frum, but she’s 25 and wants to get married now.
Sorry. She’s the exception. It’s simply not the norm.
Who’s the typical young woman in secular society? Beautiful, fit, fashionable, goes to the gym, educated with at least two degrees, parties but doesn’t bring her party girl spirit to the work place, open to all experiences, all viewpoints, all people, has a liberal attitude towards life, tech-savvy, sends 200 text messages a day, and of course, has an up-to-date facebook account.

As I gazed more intently into the mirror – I found myself being so grateful to HaShem. Thank YOU HaShem for saving me…I could’ve been so lost. I grew up in that world, in that type of school, social setting, family, etc. where I could be the same age right now, but on a completely different and wrong direction in life. I could be dressing immodestly, posting my pictures on facebook – just to show everyone that I was “out”, having 1000 male friends and very few, if any, real female friends, and being completely lost and trying to fill that emptiness by partying, clubbing, drinking, doing drugs, watching movies, being tech-obsessed,  reading all of the latest magazines and spending a fortune on all of the latest trends, etc.
But no. That’s not my life.  Thank G-d.

All these thoughts passed through my head within seconds.

Later, I shared these thoughts with my husband and said “living that life is simply a completely different reality.”

I said that knowing that's probably what many women would think about me, as well. The "religious reality" vs. actual reality.

But who really has the REAL reality?

He then shared something that made a strong impression on me:
“Sefardi Gal, HaShem gives every individual in this world a certain amount of energy and time. Everyone is going to get tired somehow. At the end of the day, everyone has 24 hours a day. We choose how to spend it.”
That means…
Everyone has to go to work. Everyone has to get dressed. Everyone has to eat, speak, function, etc.
But HOW each individual does these seemingly mundane acts makes the difference between holiness and haughtiness. Clarity and confusion. Fulfilment and emptiness.
So, yes, everyone needs clothing. I need clothes. But what kind of clothes do I wear? Are they modest? Do I wear them just because everyone else does, or because this is truly the way I believe and know that a person is supposed to dress.
Yes, I need to speak and communicate. But what kind of words do I use? Do I speak with a harsh tone, do I go around gossiping, speaking lashon hara, cursing, insulting others, etc.? Or do I speak pleasantly, kindly, honestly, positively?

I’m not sure if I’m conveying the point well enough. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

We are allotted so many gifts in this world. We choose whether to properly use them, abuse them, or not use them at all.
A Jew should always strive to use his gifts as much as possible. To use every emotion, every body part, every status, every part of himself to serve HaShem in the best way possible. To elevate everything and everyone around him. To make mundane acts become wondrous, holy acts that lead him to be closer to HaShem yitbarach.

May we take this outlook and apply it during this incredible new year of 5773. A belated Shana Tova to all!

I will try to update this blog more often, but I must say bli neder because…well…
I’ll be busy doing laundry and cooking aka striving to upgrade the mundane to holiness :D
Shabbat Shalom!