The articles in this blog represent my own belief, thoughts and walk with Adonai and the things He teaches me. Do not copy or publish any of my articles without my permission.

Thank you for your understanding,
Bat Melech בת מלך

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Strong?



Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Mishlei / Proverbs 16:32

Ben Zoma asks in Pirkei Avot 4:1 (Ethics of the Fathers) “Who is strong? One who overpowers (controls) his inclinations.” And continues to quote the pasuk (verse) in Mishlei 16. 

 It sounds so easy. You want to be strong? Overpower your inclinations. Simple, right? I thought so. Thus I tried, and I got stuck on some repeat mode, because more often than not, I was the one overpowered by my inclinations than the other way around. So I would try, fail and mourn my loss, hate my failure and try again. And for the longest time I didn’t even think to ask, “How, pray tell, does one exactly go about controlling oneself?” Because obviously I was missing something. 

The Talmud says that everything is in the hands of heaven except for the awe of heaven. Meaning that everything is in HaShem’s control, except for my understanding and appreciation of that fact. Every reaction, or wrong attitude or sinful inclination comes from me not being aware of the fact that He is running the show, not I. 
The way He is running this reality is totally not my business, but the way I chose to respond to that and the choices I make, that’s totally my business. I do His work, not His job. His job is to run all existing realities, mine is to obey His will. 

Sadly I am not always aware of that. And even more tragic is the fact that sometimes I’d catch myself being busy trying to do His job. But if I’m busy being HaShem, then who’s left to be me? 

There is a story about Rabbi Zusia, that one day he went to his talmidim (disciples) and he was crying bitter tears and the talmidim asked him “Rabbi, why are you crying?” He told them “because I am close to my death and I fear judgement.” The talmidim said “Rabbi, but you are a tzadik (righteous man) and you have done so much good in the world, why would you fear judgement?” He told them, “I am not afraid that I haven’t done enough good deeds. I know HaShem will not ask me why wasn’t I more like Avraham or Moshe (Moses), but what shall I say when He asks me “Zusia, why weren’t you Zusia?” 

I know I am on this planet with a limited amount of time and with a mission. And that mission is to be everything that HaShem wants me to be. The good news is I don’t have to be anybody else. I’ve tried and it’s exhausting. I am here to be me. The best version of me there can possibly be. 

I need to let Adonai be God and I need to be me. He Is Who He Is. Nothing more and nothing less. I on the other hand am sometimes someone else, and it pains me because I can feel His voice whisper in my very bones “This is not who you are, you’re better than that. You know this is not you.” I have to let Him be Who He Is and I need to be who I am. 

I need to stop trying to change things that are His domain and start focusing on the things that I can change, and that’s my attitude towards what He does. Do I like what He does all the time? NO. As bad as that makes me sound, no, I don’t like everything He does. And I catch myself sometimes trying to change His mind, make Him see reason, see that there could be an easier way (I’m hopeless in my pride, believe me). 

I heard about a psychiatrist asking his son once “son, what is the difference between psychosis and neurosis?” The son sensing a joke went along and said, “I don’t know, what?” The father said, ‘Son, psychosis is when you think 2 plus 2 equals 5 and neurosis is when you know it’s 4 but you can’t stand it.” 

Two plus two equals four. Regardless how I wish it was 3 or 5 it’s still 4. And I can spend my life angry with that little fact, or I can accept it and stop wasting energy on finding ways to make it 5 instead of 4. 

There’s really only one choice I get to make. Do I live in awe of HaShem alone, or do I choose to be ruled by the fear of people, places and things? If it’s awe of HaShem alone then I no longer have to live my life in fear of the little idols I have made for myself by placing my trust in powerful people, or institutions or places where I’d feel safe, worrying that they could hurt me or hoping they could help me. If I live my life in awe of HaShem alone, then I understand that He is running things and He is doing a good job. All I have to do is show up and try to choose the right thing. The outcome is no longer in my control. 

The problem is I don’t like discomfort. Whether it is because I am human or because I am a woman or just because I am me, I don’t know, but I don’t like discomfort. I often get a fight or flight reaction to situations I am in. And when I feel uncomfortable I need to find a way to make it go away, or escape that feeling. If it’s pain, I need to find relief ASAP. If it’s emotional discomfort, make a joke and laugh it off. If it’s certain people, avoid them like the plague. If it’s the present reality, disconnect from it and be in la la land imagining a future. But those are just things I use to deny the present reality. And my reaction often spells “HaShem You got it wrong so I’ll be in denial until You get right.” 

I am learning in my journey even if I don’t like painful lessons. But my dislike for pain doesn’t diminish in any way shape or form the fact that HaShem runs things perfectly. That doesn’t mean always pleasant, but it’s always perfect. 

I can learn to submit to His plans and His way. I can learn to act like a beloved daughter from His beloved Son. Yeshua was in the garden praying and He told Adonai “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) It’s not wrong to not enjoy pain. To wish it wasn’t the only way. But regardless of what I feel to be obedient to HaShem’s will knowing that even in death He’ll find a way to turn things for good. And that is faith not fantasy.

Often fantasy and faith are thought to be the same. Fantasy is an idea that I cling to in order to avoid facing reality. Faith is an idea I cling to in order to have the courage to face reality. 

Yeshua had faith and I can learn from Him to face my reality, not find ways to deny it. 

Pain in this life is unavoidable but suffering is optional. Pain is a stimuli response. There is nothing neurotic about pain. Suffering is the philosophical interpretation of pain. If I hurt my toe it’s OK cry out. That’s a response to pain, but wondering ‘why does this always happen only to me?’ that’s optional. 

How does one control oneself? By getting over yourself. By understanding that that HaShem runs things, not I and that’s OK, because I have something better to do. I can accept the things I cannot change, have courage to change the things I can change and ask for wisdom to know the difference. 


Bat Melech בת מלך
 Cristina כריסטינה





Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fight!



Guardian of every dream I’ve dreamed and every prayer I’ve prayed,
Listener of every word of every promise that I’ve ever made,
Seeker of my heart through every deviation I have strayed,
Mender of my brokenness, don’t let me fade!

You light my way, my King, even in this night
My every step is known to You, I’m always in Your sight
Even when I can’t hold my sword and lose the will to fight,
Reach down once more, Avi (my Father), and be my Knight.

Creator of my peace, see me through this war,
Lion of Yehuda, lift up Your voice and roar,
Let it be known I’m Yours, You made a vow… You swore…
Healer of all my pain, my faith restore!

And I will keep on going without any regrets,
I’ll remind my heart of every kindness it forgets,
I’ll stay on track against all odds and bets,
And I won’t cower when I hear the enemy’s threats.

Submit to me rebellious heart, listen: HaShem is One!
Regardless how you tremble, you will not run!
Pick up your sword even if he has a gun,
Because HaShem is Your shield! The war is won! 


Bat Melech בת מלך
 Cristina כריסטינה

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Emunah



“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

I have a talent for thinking myself to death. In every situation. Whether it’s related to the second coming or having to choose to eat an ice cream, my brain is in overdrive. On one such instance I had the bad inspiration of thinking out loud (because I’ve been blessed with no filter when it comes to voicing my thoughts) and the answer I got was “you just have to believe!” Of course it was immediately followed by an eye-twitch on my part. Because, seriously? Is that what I have to do? It has never crossed my mind to believe, so thank you for that unnecessary insight! (You can see why people tend to avoid me.) 

 Faith. Everybody knows what it’s all about. Hoping against all hopelessness and knowing against all contrary evidence that the thing hoped for is as it was promised. Taking HaShem at His word. 

Hearing some people talking about it, they make it sound as easy as breathing. And sometimes it is. For some unmovable concepts it always is.

 I have never questioned whether HaShem exists or not. I concluded long ago that I don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution, so the fact that HaShem is real is just that. A fact. Like air and gravity and my very own existence. And it’s not some abstract concept open for interpretation like peace and love and liberty, but an immovable fact. I don’t question gravity and I don’t question HaShem’s existence.
 But sadly sometimes I do question His goodness. I am that dreadful. Sometimes I end up doubting His plans and His wisdom as crazy as that sounds. I don’t put it in that many words, but that’s what my attitude spells. And in my lucid state of mind I understand just how ludicrous I sound, but in the thick of things I want to scream out loud “What are You doing?! Don’t You know this hurts? Don’t You know this will set me back 10 steps? Can’t You see that I’m hanging by a thread and I am no light weight?! Why are You doing this?” Like I know better… My pride knows no bounds. 

I’ve watched other believers for a long time. They seem to always have it right. They never doubt and they never lose joy even in their painful circumstances. And they don’t fake it. I can tell a faker from a mile away because I’m good at it so it’s easy to spot it in someone else. But no, they are just genuinely strong and faithful. My grandmother is one of those people. She disciplined herself into this awesome woman and I wish I would have inherited 10% of her genuine faith, but I’m from a different mold it seems. I don’t have a high threshold for pain and I fight until I exhaust myself if I perceive something as injustice. 

I admire people that have learned how to be content in every situation. They just have some special ability to accept whatever comes as from Adonai and move on. If you put my grandmother between two high cliffs she would just need her Bible and her song books and she would sit between those cliffs and call them home. I on the other hand, if you put me between two cliffs, even if it will take me a lifetime, I’ll find something sharp and carve myself a stairway one grain of stone at a time until I can call myself free. And sadly sometimes I end up carving away at Adonai. 

So I have issues, clearly. I have doubts where there should be joyful faith and I felt guilty for that all my life and my best moments when I was ‘in faith’ don’t make the doubts less true. So I’ve learned to hide it because I don’t want to be judged but in my heart of hearts I’d know the truth. 
.  
When it comes to faith we’re used to thinking in absolutes, but things don’t work like that because there will always be exceptions that will undo that absolute. If I were to ask, “Are you a good person?” the answer can’t be an absolute because nobody is absolutely bad just like nobody is absolutely good. I talk of humans of course, oh you with the keen eye ready to correct me with a well deserved “except for God”. 

We all have a measure of good and evil in us and it’s up to us to make ourselves better or worse. It’s the same when it comes to faith. Faith is not an absolute or a constant, it’s more like a spectrum. 

Some days it points higher than on other days, but it’s always there. Of course it’s my responsibility to work it and nurture it and help it grow, by keeping my eyes open to everything He does. But He never demanded blind faith and I don’t believe in blind faith. Faith comes through conviction and through tasting and seeing that He is good. Mind you in my case my taste buds suffer from short term memory loss and I need to remind myself of His goodness constantly, but it still works. And I think He knows that among His children I’m like a child with special needs that really tests His patience, but blessed be His Name forever, He’s always there… Even when I suspect Him of the worse intentions, that He took me out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) to kill me in the desert, or when I cry I’m hungry and then the food He supplies is not good, I want something else! Even when I cry for the cucumbers in Mitzrayim… He never leaves me, so there must be hope for anyone!

There are 13 attributes of faith in Judaism and they all start with “Ani ma amin b’emunah shelemah…” I believe with perfect faith… My emunah (faith) is never perfect. Sometimes it barely flickers, other times I’m lucky there are no mountains nearby because I would move them around, or so I think. (Did I mention the pride thing? Yeah? OK.) I guess what I try to say is that I have no label for my faith. But it’s there. 

In Mark 9 there is a man that comes to Yeshua for help. Read it in context, but in verse 22b - 24 the man says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Yeshua said to him, “If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Yeshua is clear that it’s never a question of whether or not He can do it, all it needs is faith. And the man understands that and says “I believe, help my unbelief!” In other words, I am low on faith, but believe with me! Supply what my faith lacks! I can’t do anything for You, not even believe with perfect faith, but help my unbelief! 

I know it’s obvious sometimes that I lack faith. And I know that some people feel better by pointing out the obvious. And whether it is to encourage me or to tell me off they tell me to believe. And I try. Believe you me, I try. But on the days when I run low on faith, I can’t help my unbelief even if my life depended on it and no one can help my unbelief except for the One in Whom that faith is placed. 

So I believe… as much as I can today. 


“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” – Romans 12:3

Bat Melech בת מלך
 Cristina כריסטינה