20 Tishrei 5782 / Sunday, September 26, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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Rockin’ and Rolling    

Rockin’ and Rolling

Sometimes things happen in life that become seemingly-perilous boulders in our life, blocking the path to truth and totaling disorienting us; there's a right way to react...


One of our favorite family activities is rock crawling. We started by joining our local 4x4 club and touring around on trails in the forests and deserts around our home. Although our vehicle was built for the terrain I was constantly nervous over the slightest “interesting section” we encountered. You would find me with a white knuckled grip on my safety bar as we’d drop over rocks, drive side hill across mountains, and maneuver across creek washouts. I felt like the only one that was so nervous – looking around, everyone else was having a great time and looking for even bigger challenges.


On almost every run there would be an official challenge hill of some sort. My understanding husband would let his panicking, hyperventilating wife (me) out of the vehicle before starting the challenge. Sometimes I would be “brave” and think I that I would just ride along in the challenge… this often resulted in my dear husband having to stop mid challenge (not necessarily the safest thing to do) and let me out of the vehicle before attempting to continue to climb.


We continued to join the 4x4 club on their local outings for about 2 years and I remained pretty much the nervous nelly of the group. I continued to participate because, despite my nerves, I truly love spending time out in nature far from buildings and development. This love for the outdoors is what prompted me to agree to travel over 1000 miles from home to a rock crawling event in Utah. A weeklong event with new trails each day on landscape I’d never seen - vertical rock walls we climbed, descents that required multiple safety ropes tied to the vehicle and secured so that it would not roll nose over end down the hill, trails that were so narrow with drop offs on either side of the vehicle that you literally could not open your door and get out – there was nothing but air under your door…. It was an amazing, terrifying, thrilling, and limit-stretching event for me.


Upon returning home one of the first trails we did was one that had made me most nervous in the past. I was shocked when I found myself laughing and thoroughly enjoying the trip – challenge hill and all. The “interesting parts” of the trail no longer seemed life threatening; the challenge hill appeared as an interesting and enjoyable diversion in our (now to me) relaxing drive in the wilderness. What had happened? My perspective had been changed. I’d grown. I’d learned. I’d gone through (much) bigger challenges and survived so I no longer needed to panic over these small bumps in my path. It’s been many years since those first two panicky years, and we’ve been blessed to visit several rock crawling areas around the western United States. Each time I’m challenged a little more – sometimes I still get out of the vehicle – but its all learning and growth.


Recently I ran head long into an emuna challenge that started because of a single sentence I’d read that I had misinterpreted and that had left me questioning everything I know to be true about being a Noahide. I emotionally crumpled and panicked and spilled what seemed like my entire vessel of emuna out on the ground. Figuratively standing there with my hands on my hips staring at my seemingly empty emuna vessel I felt utterly defeated and quite nervous. I questioned how I could lose my emuna so quickly?! Did I ever really have emuna to start with?


I will not take you into the depth of my thoughts as I pondered that sentence and rolled around the possible meanings as that is not important. What is important is the lessons that I learned.


1. I should have headed straight into personal prayer as soon as I became confused and after that,


2.  should have reached out to my Rabbi and Spiritual Guide


Instead I spent a week or more in spiritual turmoil. I was lost and confused and exactly where the EI wanted me. Thankfully a dear friend threw me a lifeline – a few sentences that completely cleared up my misunderstanding. Upon reading her words, the answer seemed so simple I could not believe I ever misunderstood what I had read… let alone have let the confusion go on for so long without asking for assistance in understanding.


That week of confusion was a giant rock in my emuna path – I’d climbed to the top of it and froze in fear not knowing how to descend the other side. When I finally came to my senses enough to reach out in prayer and to a reliable resource my path to understanding was illuminated and I’ve been able to continue on my way with that emuna challenge behind me.


Here’s the interesting bit – I am SO thankful for that emuna challenge. It stretched me, had me question ideas, gave me time to think and it gave me the skills to handle future challenges. I came through that big emuna challenge and now the everyday emuna bumps in the road no longer look like big obstacles – they are now opportunities to be thankful and smile…. Knowing that Hashem has led me safely over much worse rocky patches and trusting that in the small or the big He will always be there to help me keep rolling down the trail toward my mission in life. 



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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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