Sanctify yourself through the permissible... Yevamos 20a

Divrei Torah to provide Chizuk in the struggle to balance spiritual and physical needs.

L'Iluei Nishmas Mirkah Bas Yosef

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Prescription for a Miracle

Moving from a Passive to an Active Role.

Every year as I stood before God on Yom Kippur, I begged for good health, spiritual self control and the ability to do God’s will. I waited for some miracle to occur and that these things should suddenly pop out of the sky. as a magic gift waiting for me to unwrap them and “poof” magically change.

Every day when I prayed for good health and the ability to change, I continued to wait for that long awaited miracle. I was convinced that I was a passive participant in this process.

Meanwhile, as I continued to wait and to pray, my reality was the opposite. My weight continued to climb upward, my physical health was gradually declining, and I was convinced that I had nothing to do with it.

Sometimes we have to come to a low place in order to start climbing up.

Last year during the Yom Tovim, I found myself miserable from food. By the time that Sukkas came, I had developed a pre-ulcer condition and was unable to hold very much in my stomach. I finally listened to the message that God was sending me loud and clear. I had to take control of my eating and my health.

Why did it take me so many years to accept my responsibility for my own health?

In our daily prayers, we ask God to give us salvation from our problems, but we think that we are passive participants in our own lives. We think that our job is to float with the tide and to make the right choices as the decisions come up. This is a major misconception.
Real Change comes from proactive change not responsive change.

In order to really make a difference in my life I had to rethink the foundations of my life. I had to give up the idea that I could do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. I had to accept someone else’s rules and guidance. I had to be willing to give up autonomy to gain a greater good.

I came to understand that if I really wanted what I was praying for, then I had to start making it happen.

Miracles can happen for people who prove they really want it, and are willing to work for it.

In our daily lives we want many, many things. In fact our lives could be considered a stream of passing desires. But how many of these desires are strong enough for us to act on, and make changes for.

If God would give us everything we pray for, our lives would be an unmitigated disaster. When my 2 year old granddaughter asks for her tenth piece of candy in fifteen minutes, am I really showing her my love by giving it to her.

We have the power to make major changes in our lives, we just have to be willing to reach out for external guidance.

We are all so wrapped up in what we are doing that it is hard for us to see our own reality. When a friend asks us for advice, it is always so much easier for us to see where their mistakes are, then for us to see our own mistakes. If a casual friend can help us, how much more so, an expert in the field.

I turn to the Rabbis for my spiritual guidance, and I turned to the guidance of OA for my physical recovery. When we are willing to submit to wisdom greater then our own we can grow beyond our wildest dreams.

Accepting our humility before God

In the 12 step program, the first step is:

We admitted that we were powerless over food - that our lives had become unmanageable.

The second step is:

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

When we are willing to admit our inability to change on our own we open the door to a world of change. Today’s culture wants to believe that we are all autonomous, but the reality is different. Perhaps that is why the 12 step programs are so successful and so popular. They plug into the idea of humility before a higher power.

The salvation that we are waiting for, is waiting for us.

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles says that in the beginning of the Torah when God says “Let us make man” he was showing that our creation is a joint effort. We can not expect God to hand us this change on a silver platter. He wants us join in the process of our own creation. He wants us to be active, not passive participants in our own lives.

We have to plan for our change, and we have to work for our change. When we stand before God on Yom Kippur begging for life, we have to know what we are planning to do to accomplish this goal. We have to know what we are willing to give up to accomplish this goal. Our thoughts have to translate into action not empty promises. We can not allow another year to go by without real and substantial change.

If I can do it, you can do it to. With God’s help, my physical problems have been reversed due to my weight loss of over 70 pounds. This year, when I pray for good health, I know that I am working together with God to make it happen. I am no longer waiting for some nameless miracle to happen.

This is an article that I submitted to Aish.com. They published it in a much shorter version:

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