Friday, October 30, 2009

We all mess up sometimes

One step forward, two steps back. Ever find yourself doing that?

You manage two full weeks back at gym, but oversleep one morning and go downhill from there. Business seems on track, then suddenly goes quiet. Your Rosh Hashanah resolution looked promising, but you don’t feel so motivated any longer.

It can get frustrating to have a setback as you start making progress. No matter how motivated you feel or how convinced you are that “this time” you’ll stick with the programme, there will always be an obstacle along the way. Life’s speed bumps can bring us to grinding halt.

Backsliding is nothing new. 3900 years ago, Avraham had a similar problem. G-d Himself appeared to Avraham and set him off on a journey of discovery by telling him “Lech Lecha”, or as Johnnie Walker would say: “Keep walking”. “Lech lecha” doesn’t just mean “go”, it means continue to progress and develop in an unbroken upward motion. G-d essentially promised Avraham that he would never fail.

Yet, shortly after reaching his objective, the land of Canaan, Avraham had to leave. Famine in the land forced him to travel to Egypt, Earth’s most immoral country.

One second! What happened to the up-and-up message of “Lech lecha”? How could G-d promise Avraham consistent spiritual development and then send him off to Egypt? Avraham and Sarah had a rough landing when they got there- Sarah abducted by Pharaoh and Avraham scrambling to protect his own life. It seems a far cry from the grand Divine promise.

Read the story and you’ll notice that Avraham remains unperturbed by this unexpected twist of fate. He was a wise man, who understood the meaning behind life’s disappointments.

Avraham appreciated that growing spiritually and becoming a better person is not only about going up. You need to slip too. You need to mess up so that you can fix up; fail so you can grow stronger. Avraham trusted G-d that heading “down” to Egypt was really part of the process of rising up. Because he had the right attitude, Avraham bounced back, changed the trajectory of humankind and fathered the Jewish nation.

Next time you get all motivated and then let yourself down, remember to make it part of your journey to rise even higher.

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