Wow, what a year! Rosh Hashanah last year we had just started going to synagogue a few months ago after a big move to the city from our simple coast life. I was homeschooling Lior, and we were all missing our friends and the beach, but still in the bubble of excitement that comes with moving and doing new things.
I thought the previous year had been hard – making the decision the leave our family and friends in the pursuit of G-D, not entirely sure where that would leave. And it was. It was actually really hard, but the year on the whole was beautiful and fun. Enter 5778.
This was truly a more challenging year. If I thought it was a big deal to make those decisions, I had no idea how hard it would be to live them out. So many things went wrong this year and it has easily been the most difficult year of my life.
Death in our extended family, my own health hit rock bottom, various difficulties with each kid resulting in endless worries and anxiety. Depression, stress, loneliness – they all reared their ugly heads this year and stayed for most of it. Confusion of our direction, and my own beliefs and understanding, and a general feeling of… stretching.
Now, I don’t want you to think that the whole year was bad. We did after all make many happy decisions and experience a LOT of joy. Several holidays, most notable was our whole Rodgers family trip to Tangalooma, and two overseas trips. Lior thrived at school – learning more than ever before, and just truly enjoying all aspects of school life. It was hard to make the decision to take Eli out of Kindy, but one I am proud we could make, and that Luke and I could be united on.
We made the official decision to convert to Judaism, and start lessons. Those lessons have been a big part of our stretching (learning Hebrew is… difficult!!), but also a huge part of our joy. We’ve seen our children grow in size, confidence, and spirituality. We’ve settled into a lovely house we enjoy, with wonderful neighbours on all sides. A house I am free to garden in, and one that’s easy to clean! We’ve also been fortunate to afford luxuries which easy both Luke and my stresses (in different ways) like a cleaner once a week, and someone to wash our dog, Pepper.
This past month – Elul, I have felt more stretched than ever before (but that’s kinda the point of the month, right?!), and I to be honest I have had many angry words with G-D along the lines of “Why am I here?!” and “Why am I living this life?!” and “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. MAKE IT STOP NOW!”, and I’m not exactly proud of those moments, but they are what they are. Just days before Rosh Hashanah I could finally see that this whole process of that of refining – my own exit from Mitzrayim and cleansing before entering Israel.
Tehillim 66:8-12 says
“O peoples, bless our G-D,
celebrate His praises;
who has granted us life,
and has not let our feet slip.
You have tried us, O G-D,
refining us, as one refines silver.
You have caught us in a net,
caught us in trammels.
You have let men ride over us;
we have endured fire and water,
and You have brought us through to prosperity.”
The whole chapter is about G-D refining Israel for his glory. And honestly, if I am going through the process of joining the Jewish People – then I should have probably expected more of this (and more to come!). I am seeing this through a new lens that shows me that this is a refining process – getting rid of my old habits, old ways, old life, and being reborn into a new observant life. It’s hard, yeah, but worth it.
My hopes for 5779 are that I continue to grow. Even though many times this year I’ve desperately wanted to give up, I am glad to stick with it, and hope that maybe this coming year is a little less hard, but still full of lots of growth!