By Freddy Freundlich
As we enter September, we enter a new beginning. The school year begins, summer vacation ends, and for my co-religionists, we are coming up to Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. For me, this time of year is always a time of reflection, and especially this year where I hope I am at the midway point of my life (God willing). As I reflect, I realize that although I have seen a lot in my life, this year is vastly different.
While I say this year is vastly different, in many ways I’m not so sure. Certainly, circumstances have changed, but as the saying goes, “stuff always happens”. Stuff happening is part of life, and it happens to every one of us, at one time or another. The only difference now is that some of the same things are happening too many of us at the same time.
As you reflect on stuff happening in your life, how many times did you face a challenge where you felt there was no hope? How many times did you say there is nothing I can do? It’s out of my hands. Plenty, I’m sure. Somehow, in one way or another, it worked out. It may have hurt, but you are still obviously here to take on another day. We always have a choice, whether to act or react. That is always in our hands.
To quote the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote what is known as the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Act or react; it’s up to you! Regardless of what’s going on in your life today, you have a choice. What a bunch of crock you may be saying. There’s a world pandemic going on. How do I have any control over it? You don’t! What happens is in the hands of providence. How you react is in your hands, and sometimes that makes all the difference.
These days there is a whole cottage industry of soothsayers who are all so sure of what the future will bring. I personally have no idea; I am not a prophet. And since I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, I really don’t care!
I want to share a story with you about my cousin Avraham Stern. Several years ago, Avraham, who lived in New Jersey, would commute every day to his job in New York by train. That is four days a week; Monday thru Thursday, but on Friday he would always take his car. This was his routine for many years until one Friday he did not drive to work but took the train (nobody knew why). On that particular Friday, the train had an accident and derailed. Over four hundred passengers and crew were on the train, two were killed: the train engineer and yes, Avraham.
When there is really nothing you can do about it, then it is what it is. Most of the time though, we still have a choice, and I’ve found the answer amazingly simple.
Live, love and most of all, let go and let God!
Let go and let God? What the heck am I talking about? First of all, nobody knows what the future will bring, either for the world or for us personally. Remember, there are tons of people out there who are doing extremely well. Yes, even during these turbulent times. There are people who are actually making their fortunes right now. Yes, in the middle of the world falling apart. Some of these people have been struggling all their lives and now is their time. If you want to succeed in this new year, you really have a choice. Are you going to act or react? 80% will react, and 20% will act. What’s the first step to acting? Let go and let God!
What do you have to lose? The worst that can happen is what you are already scared of and you already think is going to happen. On the other hand, what if it all ends up being great?
The truth be told, in terms of world history, we are at the best possible place and time we could ever be. As rough as the situation may be, we the residents of the 21st century are amongst the most blessed in world history. Yes, we have challenges, but most of you reading this are enjoying one of the best standards of living in the entire world; overall we enjoy everything our ancestors dreamt of.
By far the most important point we in the western world are blessed with, is the ability to keep growing. We have the ability to grow, to better ourselves, to get to the next level. Do you realize that it was only a short time ago, that most people were stuck in whatever status they happened to be born in?
The bottom-line folks is, not only not to give up, but to forge ahead with gusto! We are great and will continue to be great! Live, love and most of all, let go and let God!
© Rabbi Freddy & Associates www.rabbifreddy.com