I think one of the biggest challenges for us Baalei Teshuva has to be how to take who I have been in my past, who I’ve been raised to be, who I’ve been taught to be, and transform that person into who my potential shomer mitzvot self can be.
But who is that person? I know that we can create only that which we can envision – but I don’t even know who she is! I don’t have the picture yet….We’ve grown up so long having one picture of ourselves and our reality, our present, who we are, who we can be; and now that we’ve gained the Torah perspective, seeing higher values, different role models to emulate, an altogether different future to work towards – the big question is how do we meld them, how do we integrate them – how can I morph this American 60’s humanity loving free spirited dancer into an Eved Hashem? To fit myself into the Eastern European model certainly doesn’t work for me – it feels like I’m not being true to myself on many different levels. Where are my role models to show me the way? I truly want to keep the mitzvas – fully and halachically – but I want to do it authentically – from who I really am.
So, what I’ve found is that it’s a process of introspection, attunement and integration…Who am I really? And how do I keep my compass aligned to Hashem and the Torah first, and then to what the voice of my spirit is saying second. Living halachically is Hashem’s general instruction for us all. We can hear His specific instructions for each of us only when we look at who we are, who He’s created us to be – what our skills, talents, desires and experiences are and then to figure out how to use them to serve Him. We are each of us so special and so precious to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and we are each here to bring down a unique light. It is a sadness to me that sometimes we dim our creativity and our light in order to fit in and be “frum.” I think that the challenge is in rediscovering who we really are and serving Hashem from that full and true place. And that’s where the joy comes in – “Ivdu et Hashem b’simcha” – can only happen when we are aligned with our true selves and connected with Hashem and His Will.
B’hatzlacha to us all!