There are beautiful responses that people of faith turn to during moments of pain and struggle: Gam zu l’tova – it’s all for the good. Gam zeh yaavor – this too shall pass. Kol man d’avid Rachmana l’tav avid – everything G-d does is compassionate and for our good. It’s all bashert – meant to be.
I believe deeply in these themes. I say them. I teach them. I am even careful not to use them on other people to minimize their pain or when they’re not ready to hear them.
You know what I forget to do?
Treat myself with that same deference. And I think a lot of people of faith struggle likewise, especially those in positions of influence. These ideas, I believe, are destinations. They are ideals to strive for, they’re rays of light to see
peeking through the crack in the tunnel. They’re glimmers of encouragement during the journey.
But the questions? The struggle, the complaints, the “why me G-d”? The resentment and shame and loneliness? They are real. And we aren’t talking about them.
“Gam zu l’tovah” is not a bandaid to stop the bleeding. It’s a long-term healing goal. As the cliche goes, you gotta feel it to heal it. I think people of faith have access to wellsprings of comfort – but first you have to cry it out. You have to confront your confusion and give yourself permission to feel your feelings.
Otherwise you run the very real risk of those feelings, recognizing they are unwanted and unloved, packing their bags and heading underground. You know where they go? They morph into physical symptoms. Headaches. Neck issues. Stomachaches. Back pain. Insomnia.
And those of us in positions of influence also do the world a disservice. By avoiding the
uncomfortable truth that everyone struggles to find the good in the garbage, we denormalize humanness. We make faith seem easy when it’s not. We alienate those we strive to help.
Because faith is not something you whip out of your back pocket. Faith is a prize that you fight for.
You give yourself permission to feel your feelings and then you say ok! Warrior time! I am not a victim! Time to tell a new story! I am strong! I am loved, I am capable. G-d is my best friend cheering my journey! He is my cheerleader and my loving parent releasing the bike and watching me soar. He hugs me throughout the day and I will savor each hug!
Tomorrow I may have new feelings to feel. And that’s ok. I am not afraid of feelings. And look, there’s my faith up ahead waiting for me when I am ready, like a Cleveland spring waiting to unfold. If feeling is healing, then I am ready.