When You Are Down To nothing, God Is Up To Something

(Much of this is culled from the teachings of Rabbi Shais Taub)

When will I smile again? This is the line that has been percolating through my head. As the dust settles and the new normal, which is anything but, settles into its bumpy routine, I wonder, when will I smile again?

When will I feel the carefree spirit I felt just a few weeks ago again? I know all the slogans.

One day at a time.
Let go and let God.
This is not happening to you, it is happening in front of you.
When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.
And there are thousands more where that came from.

I believe them all. I know that they are all true, but for once my pontifications are failing me. I am not being inspired by my own words. I used to believe that “fake it till you make it” was a worthy enough slogan, to actually be worth utilizing as a life principle.

You don’t have to always feel what you believe for it to be true. Just because I don’t feel it at this moment doesn’t mean it isn’t so. I am aware of this as well.

Perhaps I’m grieving the relative peace that I (thought) I was living. The truth is, the unravelling had already begun, I was just unaware of it. Is ignorance truly bliss? Or is it a delay or stall tactic? A bandaid on a gaping wound? Denial or not, I was living relatively calmly.

Now, the knot in my stomach never goes away. Even when I distract myself with worthy and some unworthy projects, my kishkes are twisting.

I know I need to really let go and dig into my Faith. Belief that all will be well – and I do in fact believe that – I am just afraid that I will have lost my soul before that time arrives.

I think at the core is the inability to have any control on my destiny, self and outwardly imposed.

They talk about surrender being at the epicenter of recovery. Only when someone hits “ego death” can they begin to rebuild.

Is this what it feels like? Is ego death the sense of loss of self? Is it only for the addict or does it apply to everyone? In all situations?

The analogy given is only when the seed in the ground is fully rotted and loses its identity entirely does it begin to sprout new life and growth. That is certainly true for some, but must it be true for all? Can you ONLY heal when you’ve completely lost your identity?

What if I am only partially crushed, is that enough for the healing and recovery to begin?

Is rock bottom the only place where true rebounding can occur? Is there somewhere in the middle where we can meet and agree that this is enough lessons learned, enough growth having occurred?

It boils down to this, I believe. Bottom doesn’t mean that you are totally and utterly obliterated as a person, as an entity and being that has some self worth. Bottom means when you realize that “I can’t do this on my own.”

For the addict, that usually means that they have lost everything, including their marriages, their jobs, the sense of self-worth their whole identity until they realize that they are powerless to do this on their own. Then they turn to God.

Others, family and friends, or just ordinary strugglers of the world, need to merely (it is not so merely, it is a lot more than that) realize that what God put on their shoulders (or plate if you wish) is more than they can do on their own.

At that point you are at your bottom. If it doesn’t propel you to change, live deeper, more meaningfully, more authentically then most likely you haven’t reached your personal bottom. As long as there is a part of you that still thinks (somewhat cockily) “I got this on my own” then there is likely still more work to be done. More ego death-ing to go through. More bottoming out.

When I have indeed reached my bottom, I realize that any growth or improvement that goes on from here on forward is not something I do for myself is something that I do for God.

It is not about me. Then, only then, have I begun to journey to recovery.

Picture – Medium.com


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