Thursday, January 26, 2012
Inside the Mind of an Orthodox WorrierDid you think that if someone has faith in God, they stop worrying? Oh me oh my no.
I happen to have been blessed without the worry bone. Sometimes I wonder if I am, in fact, a Jewish mother. (As it turns out, I am.) But I find that many, many folks have it, big time.
Here's how the mind of a religious worrier works; by way of explanation, the word "Hashem" is used herein to denote "God" - it's a respectful Hebrew reference.
From an email I received last week:
This morning I was thinking about this adorable newborn baby I saw in Macy's last week. He was in a stroller, hat falling down over his one eye and he was just watching me as I walked by. It really struck me how this baby has no worries whatsoever. He doesn't know that there is anything in life to worry about and all his needs are currently being met by his loving parents who were both by his side.
So I said to myself, this is how we are suppose to feel when we know (really know) that Hashem [God] is taking care of us, just like a loving parent. We shouldn't worry, right?
Then I started thinking, at this newborn's young age, he really doesn't have free will and therefore his parents (provided they are normal) wouldn't punish him in anyway or deprive him of anything.
Then I started thinking that I have free will and therefore how Hashem relates to me depends on my free will choices; whether I get His blessings or a nudge to move me in the certain direction, or G-d forbid, something much greater then a just a nudge to propel me in a completely different direction. (G-d forbid, loss of job, change in health, divorce or death, G-D FORBID!).
So unlike this newborn whose parents only shower him with love and good things, what Hashem showers me with all depends on my free will choices.
Emuna [faith].. it's all ultimately in Hashem's hands, but I have to use my free will to make the best choices all the time so that Hashem will treat me favorably.
On the other hand, I'm taught that if I'm meant to lose my job, I'll lose it regardless of how good a job I do and vice-versa.
Several years ago, my boss kept me on when from a practical standpoint most employees would have laid me off because work was so slow. I thought he kept me on because he figured I'd get busy again and then he would have an experienced employee on staff (not so easy to find in my field). Maybe that was his thinking. A religious friend of mine said maybe he kept you on because Hashem felt paying me was like his tzedakah [mitzvah of charity].
When do I ever know if I've used my free will properly or to the fullest? Have I been kind and sensitive enough to my family, co-workers? Have a given my employer his money's worth? Have I used my money in ways that Hashem wants me to? Have I used my speech properly, have I davened [prayed] enough? Have a taken good enough care of my body, this vessel that He has given me on loan?
I believe that Hashem controls everything and I believe that everything is for the good. But doesn't my free will effect how Hashem chooses to treat me?
I kind of feel like I'm going around in circles with my thinking.
So...does faith make worry easier, or more complicated?