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Emuna's Thoughts before Rosh Hashanah

September 22, 2019 | by Emuna Braverman

Finding that balance between good enough and striving to grow.

I can’t believe I’m writing a piece for another Rosh Hashanah! It’s hard to believe that it’s Rosh Hashanah again – that another whole year has flown by, that since last Rosh Hashanah, we’ve gone through the whole cycle of Jewish holidays and landed back here again. And not just a whole cycle of Jewish holidays, but a whole cycle of life, a whole year of ups and downs, of joys and sorrows, of accomplishments and failures, all gone by.

And now the chance to start over again, the opportunity to reboot. The problem is that, upon reflection, I realize that I had the same opportunity last year. And the year before that and the year before that. The Almighty has been kind to me and given me multiple chances to make the necessary changes to my character. I’m just not sure I have. I’m not sure I’ve appreciated it enough. I’m not sure I’ve worked hard enough. I’m not sure I’ve made a serious enough commitment. I’m not sure the gap between who I was last year at this time and who I am this year at this time is wide enough.

And yet, if I am only focused on what wasn’t enough, I may be trapped in a place of despair. I may never feel it’s enough, or that I’m enough. It’s always easier to have perspective on others, to bolster their spirits, to rely often on the famed psychologist Donald Winnicott’s crystallization of the term “good enough mother”. The challenge is to apply it to ourselves.

And the fear is that if we think we’re good enough, we may leave it there. We may stop striving, stop pushing to grow. On the other hand, many of us are struggling like the fictional animal in the Doctor Doolittle movie, the Push Me, Pull You – going back and forth between pushing too hard and not pushing hard enough.

The real secret seems to be finding that balance, finding some peace and equanimity. The real secret seems to be continuing the commitment to growth while not berating ourselves for the seeming insignificance of our achievements. The real secret seems to be asking the Almighty to help us, to join us in this fight – to bolster our spirits when they are low and support us when they are high. We can’t do it alone.

And perhaps that’s the most important recognition and decision to make for the upcoming year. Perhaps in years past, I thought it was me – my efforts, my accomplishments, my struggles. (I can almost hear Rabbi Noah Weinberg turning over in his grave at the thought!) Perhaps I didn’t fully realize that I can't do it alone; I was unwilling to acknowledge how much I need the Almighty’s help. And perhaps with this new attitude, with this new prayer, with my true Partner, I won’t have to settle for good enough.

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