Being Happy When It Hurts

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “He who is happy inherits all the blessings of Torah. He who is not happy inherits none of them.”  By this, he meant that when we are not happy, we can not enjoy the blessings around us.

Recently, someone came to me and told me that someone very close to me made negative comments about Jews, and spoke badly about all the traditions and blessings I hold dear. They called my motives in question.  They had contempt for my heritage.  It made me feel great sadness and betrayal.  I knew God was with me, but I couldn’t help feeling badly about it.  The next morning, I spoke with a friend and told him how betrayed,  hurt, and saddened I felt about it.  Somehow, just expressing what I felt helped me to feel better and get over it.

The reality is, I don’t know the person actually said those things.  It was hearsay.  Until they say it to me directly, I can’t act as though they said it.  I am still left with the bad feelings of when I heard it, but I can’t hold people responsible for what they didn’t say to me, so as far as it goes, I can’t act as though it happened.

Its really hard to be happy when something like this is said to you.  I can’t just say the things were said out of ignorance.  The person who supposedly made the comments knows better.  In a way, my feelings were my own fault.  When you open  yourself up to people, you make yourself vulnerable.  I could be invulnerable if it don’t let anyone into my life, but that would make me unloving and uncaring.  Vulnerability is the price we pay to make a difference in other people’s lives, and sometimes we get hurt.

I was aware of God’s presence, and I prayed, but somehow I still hurt about it.  It was getting in my way of receiving the blessings of the Torah.  It made me question the value of my ministry, and I felt unappreciated for all I do.  What helped was talking with a friend who affirmed his appreciation for what I do, and shared my shock at a very bad attitude.  Its really important to surround ourselves with people who value us and care about us.  They are the ones who support us in difficult times.  Sometimes the ones who supported us in the past are the ones who attack us later. The scriptures say, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”  Psalm 41:9.

The important thing is that we do keep our eyes on God, and the purpose to which he called us.  When Moses led the people through the wilderness, they complained and didn’t appreciate him.  He continued on out of service to God, not out of some sense of appreciation or popularity from the people he led.

What matters to me is that some people do appreciate what I do.  What matters even more, is that I serve God, and I am content with that.  The Torah says, “… the word of the LORD came to Avram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Avram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.””  Our real reward is God, knowing Him, not popularity with others.  We may not have the smashing successes we thought we’d have.  We may not have things turn out the way we thought they would.  After all, when our expectations were “how could we fail with God on our side?”  Nevertheless, success is not measured in numbers.  It’s measured in obedience to His service.  People are more than willing to be “great” for God’s sake.  What if thats not what He intends?  Are we willing to be seemingly insignificant for his sake.  I am willing to be insignificant if thats what He wants, and I choose to be happy.

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2 thoughts on “Being Happy When It Hurts

  1. Of course I have no idea who is supposed to have said bad things about you, but I’m not sure I care, either. If it is true, then whoever it was is a fool, and I am not supposed to suffer fools, nor are you.

    I think if I were in your position, I might get the supposed fool, who you say is very close to you, alone somewhere and just ask him to his face whether he said that. If he denies it, you should apologize for ever having suspected him, and then tell him who accused him so they can settle matters between themselves. It is possible the squealer is really the enemy, and if so you are entitled to know. I happen to think honesty is important, and if anyone feels that way toward you he ought to have the nerve to say it to your face.

    Suspicion, implication, uncertainty, innuendo and all their relatives are your enemies. As a man of God, which you indisputably are, you have a right to know the identities of both your friends and your enemies. This cloak and dagger stuff is of ha satan.

    Rabbi, there are many, many people all over the world who consider it a great blessing to even know you.

  2. More excellence from Dr. Schiffman. This in particular struck me:

    >> “When Moses led the people through the wilderness, they complained and didn’t appreciate him. He continued on out of service to God, not out of some sense of appreciation or popularity from the people he led.”

    I’ve sometimes felt that in my religious circles. Thank you for reminding me of the real reason we serve.

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