Believe You Can Do It!
Va'eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35 )
We can do more than we think we can. In this week's Torah portion (Ex. 6:12), Moses lacks the self-confidence to try to free his people from slavery, but God helps him build up the confidence to try - and succeed! God wants us to believe in ourselves too, and make the most of our lives.
In our story, a kid has to decide whether to 'give up' or 'give it her best'.
"You know it's pretty hot out there today," Ken commented to his sister, Megan, who was curled up reading in an armchair.
"So? The air conditioning's nice and cool in here," she said with a smile.
"No, that's not what I meant. You know, your flower garden you planted - you forgot to water it today."
Megan shrugged. "Eh, I'm giving up on that lost cause."
"What do you mean?" Ken asked.
"You know how they say some people have a 'green thumb' - everything they plant grows like crazy?"
"Well I have a 'black thumb.' Everything I try to plant just shrivels up and dies - so why bother?"
"But you love flowers," Ken protested.
"Maybe - but flowers 'hate' me. Have you seen even one teeny, tiny blossom out there yet?"
"But those things take time. If you keep trying and taking care of it, eventually it's gonna happen - or if not, at least you'll know you tried. But if you just give up, then it's all over."
"Thanks for the pep talk," Megan grinned thinly, "and the gardening advice. But I know what's a lost cause, and me and that garden are it."
Ken shrugged and walked out of the room. Megan stuck her nose back into her book, but somehow it wasn't the same. She squinted as a sunbeam flickered across her eye. It is a hot day, isn't it?...
"Okay, Mr. Geranium - this is your last chance," Megan said as she poured a shower from her watering can's spout over the sorrowful looking stem and leaves. "I personally don't think you're ever going to grow with me as your gardener ... but maybe you will ... I really wish you would," she said now with more emotion, sprinkling some fertilizer from its cardboard can, "because I'd love to see your pretty flowers and I don't want to leave you 'high and dry' ... I just don't know how long I can still try and fail."
With that, feeling strangely better, she brushed the potting soil off her hands and knees and went back to the novel waiting for her in the air-conditioned den.
The next day was also hot and since Ken wasn't around telling her what to do, Megan settled into a sudoku puzzle and decided to finally forget about her 'lost cause' garden once and for all. But the numbers weren't adding up and that annoyingly sensible 'give it another try' voice inside of her just wouldn't be quiet.
The girl grudgingly trudged out to the garden, watering can in hand. She got closer and stopped short. Had someone left a red candy wrapper out there? No. It was a real, big and beautiful flower blossom!
She ran up to it all smiles and inhaled its spicy-sweet smell. "I guess you really could do it - Mr. Geranium!" she smiled at the plant. "And ... I guess I really could, too."
Q. How did Megan feel about her flower garden at first?
A. She felt like she couldn't make it grow and wanted to give up.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt that she was able to do more than she had thought she could.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Megan learned from what happened?
A. She had lacked confidence in her ability to make a garden grow and was about to give up. But with some encouragement she persevered and succeeded. So, next time she's in doubt she'll be more likely to persevere too.
Q. Why do you think she wanted to give up?
A. It's natural to feel like we're failures, especially when things don't work out right away. But if we make the effort to believe in ourselves and not give up, we'll find we can do many things we thought we couldn't.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. If the flower never bloomed, would Megan then have been a 'failure'?
A. Certainly not. Just by overcoming a defeatist attitude and giving things another try, she'd accomplished a significant spiritual victory.
Q. Can a person ever be 'too' confident?
A. If by that we mean acting arrogantly or taking foolish risks, then the answer is 'yes.' However, in most things situations, a healthy, confident optimism is the key to a happy, successful life.