What Am I Supposed to Learn?

Lately I’ve been struggling with something. There is something I’m supposed to learn. A lesson I’m being taught. Yet I’m struggling because I don’t know what I need to learn.

It began the other night when I was lamenting to myself about three “problems” that have occurred of late. First there was the theft of my Honda Civic. Then our television broke so we’re now using a very small box that was in the garage. Not the worst thing in the world, I know. Then my duvet cover (the one I blogged about as part of my safe spot) suddenly had a series of rips in it and is no longer usable.

What do these things have in common? For one, they are things. They all cost money and they (theoretically) need to be replaced.

I know there are certainly much worse things in life to worry about. And I shouldn’t spend my time concerned with material objects. But it just seemed that these things were happening — one after the other — and all of them had some meaning to me in my life. All I could think was, “Can I get a break here? What’s going on?”

So as I was basking in my pity party, I began thinking about the parable of the man who lived by the river and missed his three signals from God that were designed to save him from tragedy. You’ve probably heard this story in some form or another. For me, this prose was made famous by the brilliant writing of Aaron Sorkin in one of my favorite West Wing episodes, Take This Sabbath Day. If you haven’t watched this scene, you MUST. It’s beautifully written, with dialogue that goes so succinctly with the background music of the Hashkiveinu (a Jewish prayer to help one have peace at night and to return to life the following day).

I’ve always been drawn to that story since I first heard it more than ten years ago on The West Wing. I’ve always wanted to write about it, but wasn’t sure how it applied to me. That is until the other night when I thought of these things — the duvet cover, the car, the TV. And then I realized that I’m supposed to learn something from this. These are my three signals. I’m being told something. I can’t see it yet; but I know it’s there.

Is it a coincidence this is happening around the Days of Awe — the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — where the sole purpose of this time is to examine and reflect upon one’s life and choices? No, I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all.

I don’t yet know what I’m supposed to learn. I don’t know what God is telling me. But I do know it’s up to me to figure out. I know I’m being sent the signals — the same way God sent them to the man on the river and how Aaron Sorkin gave the signs to President Bartlett. I am confident the answers will come, perhaps when I’m least expecting them. I just need to listen and understand.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? What have you learned when you least expected it?

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