Learning to accept what is and find happiness in every situation

When I got out of the hospital with Yirmiyahu on Sunday afternoon, my intention was to spend every bit of time together with our family possible before the upcoming four month separation.  (I was going to go to the US for an extended period but after Yirmiyahu’s hospitalization we changed plans, and my husband will be leaving right after Pesach to be with dd18.)  But man plans and G-d laughs.

We had a lovely seder, though I really felt dd18’s absence. The next day I began to have difficulty breathing. By the evening it was very, very hard to breathe and my husband mentioned that he was also starting to have trouble breathing. That was the beginning of the worst virus I’ve ever experienced in my life – every possible symptom you could have except ear pain, I had.  Coughing, runny nose, stuffed up nose, chills, feverish, shaking, nausea, vomiting, pain in every part of my body, inability to eat, gastrointestinal upset and lungs that feel coated with phlegm.  The first two days in bed I wasn’t aware of much that was going on around me; I had this weird feeling of seeing four dimensions of my mind opening at one time while I was tossing and turning (I know, it’s very weird and I don’t even know that that means but that’s what I felt).  I woke up with my entire body sweating late Friday afternoon – did you know that your legs can sweat?:) – with my clothes and blanket damp, and it was like something broke – and was able to get up and light Shabbos candles.

I had to go right back to bed but was picturing being better by the next day.  However, that was much too optimistic.   (Dh went to the doctor and was told that it’s a virus and there’s nothing to do but wait it out.  Of course all my home remedies are packed away for Pesach.)  Right now it’s the fourth day and for the first time I can sit up and focus somewhat.  I’m still very weak and it looks like I’ll be in bed for at least another day.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to be up at least somewhat for the last day of Pesach.  Dh has also been really sick but not as bad as me, so we’ve been bonding together by being sick together.  :)

Dh was able to read when he was sick and was sharing with me some things he read.  One article was about what to look for in a marriage partner. The article stated that you should look for a compatible life direction and life philosophy. He said that he thinks that what’s most important is a spouse who can roll with life’s punches and understand that things won’t always go the way you want, the way you plan, the way you expect.

I agreed, though I do think you have to start with the commonality of a shared life vision.  You learn to deal with the twists and turns of life by going through them and you can’t really know how you’re going to handle a situation until you’re in the situation.

I’ve said this before: every single person is going to go through very difficult things in their lives.  You can be as proactive as you can to take care of your health and invest in your marriage and your family and be financially responsible and interact with everyone in a respectful way – and you can avoid some problems, but there’s no way to avoid all of them.  Every single person was put here in this world with a unique mission, and part of your mission is to be tested in some significant way to bring out something in you that easy times can’t bring out.

But that’s really an academic matter until you face it.

It’s natural to want to kick and scream ‘Unfair!’ when something  bad happens to us.  But at a certain point we have to move past that and find acceptance.  When we get stuck insisting that life should be different, we make things so much harder for ourselves.

I want to share with you something very powerful that I love so much that I carried with me in my wallet for a long time.  (Hmm, what happened to this when I moved?)  I often read this to myself when I felt frustrated about something that wasn’t going my way in the course of the day and it always helped recenter me.  It’s from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, a book that focuses on practical spirituality; a good friend of ours who was a mashgiach ruchani in a major yeshiva in Israel told my husband that he was amazed how totally in line with Torah the principles of this book are.

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism (I substitute whatever word is appropriate for my situation), I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Isn’t that beautiful?  I hope you find it as helpful as I have!


3 thoughts on “Learning to accept what is and find happiness in every situation

  1. Avivah,

    Thank you for always being an inspiration to all of us! A complete refuah to you and all your kinderlach! Chag Sameach!

  2. Rabbi Dr Twerski has written a book on exactly how compatible 12 step programs and the Torah are – It’s called “Self-Improvement? I’m Jewish!”. He basically says we can all benefit from working the 12 steps (and all 12 step programs lead back to the AA Big Book!).

    Anyway, you and your family are continually in my thoughts. Chag sameach and refuah shleimah to everyone who needs it!

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