12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Please Don't Share My Story    

Please Don't Share My Story

Mom's words penetrated straight to the heart: “If you are willing to share your smiles with people, why are you not willing to share your tears?”


On my first day of elementary school, I was 5 years old and so happy to surrounded by new friends. Heading back in from our first recess break, a couple older boys (to me they seem like near adults, although they must have only been 4th or 5th graders) ran up and started saying something like “worm hair, you’ve got worms for hair.” I didn’t understand what they meant but I slowly put my hand up to my head and found that a big, fat earthworm had been placed in my hair. They probably expected me to freak out at having touched a worm. What they didn’t know is I was raised in the country and was accustomed to creepy crawlies. I didn’t scream or cry – I simply removed the worm from my hair and went on about my day. Although I was devastated that someone would do that to me (or anyone else) it was more worrisome to me that other people might find out I had been the center of a prank.


Keep calm. Keep emotions in check. Make sure everyone thinks everything is ok with me… even if things are not ok. Whatever happens, don’t let them see you cry. Where I got these concepts is beyond me.


From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been what I call a private person. An introvert by nature it often doesn’t occur to me to share details of my life with others – and if those details have any bit of pain or potential embarrassment associated with them you can bet I’ve got them locked down and under guard least they accidentally slip out into public knowledge.


One day about 8 years ago my mom and I were out for a walk and I mentioned my rule about never crying (or really showing any emotion other than contentment) in front of people. As is usual, whenever I’m in need of some grounding advice I can count on her to have a succinct comment that drills right to the core of the issue. She said “If you are willing to share your smiles with people, why are you not willing to share your tears?”  Well if that wasn’t something to ponder.


If I remember correctly, my first email to Rabbi Lazer Brody back in 2008 or so started with something similar to “Please don’t share my story on your blog… it’s too painful for me but I need help.”


Thinking back on that email all these years later I can still feel some of the feelings I was having at that time. I was desperate, lost, hurting, and (now I realize) oh so full of ego.


Here I was reaching out over the internet (which seemed really weird to me anyway) to a Rabbi in Israel for help because the stories on his website had given me a glimpse of truth. I wanted help and I wanted to find out more about that truth but I didn’t want MY story shared because it was too painful for ME.


At that time it didn’t cross my mind that the very stories that had given me hope, had inspired me to keep coming back to the blog, that had ultimately convinced me to reach out – were also painful to other people yet they obviously didn’t put the same caveat on requesting help as I had.


“Help me, but don’t publish my story (even thought it might help someone else) because I don’t want people to know I need help.” Is really what my ego as saying.


Thankfully Rabbi Brody did help me and without publishing my story. It was one of the first times I’d been completely open and honest with someone else (and myself) about needing help and advice. Hashem had led me to a kind and true resource where my outreach was returned with the roadmap to the path Hashem was wanting me to take. I laugh when I think of the response I would have had if I’d been told that 7 years later I would be willingly and excitedly sharing my life lessons with the world.


As Hashem has so gently lead me down this path, the areas of growth in my life have been many. One of them is the willingness to open up and share the truth of who I am, where I’ve come from and the emuna that keeps me moving forward – on this very public space.


It is my prayer that my stories will help spread emuna in the world and encourage others to seek Hashem and their true path in life.



* * *

Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her at jenniferjwoodward@gmail.com for dates and times.

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  right on target!
Chaim9/23/2016 2:44:14 PM

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