By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Life is messy! This truth is lost on most of us. Rabbi/Dr. Abraham Twerski teaches that all of us have a Jacob and an Esau inside of us. All of us have an animal instinct that searches for pleasure and a Divine instinct that reaches for connection and compassion—this is how I understand Rabbi Twerski's teaching. We see this in our daily lives, yet we want to either deny this reality and blame someone else or think that there is something wrong with us. How sad!
Reading the news and watching movies, TV, listening to the radio, even the polemics on both ends of the spectrum prove to us that Life is Messy! The Recovery Movement deals with life's messes through T’Shuvah. T’Shuvah, as I interpret it, means:
1) Repentance—looking at oneself through God's/higher self's eyes without being judgmental and being in discernment. This means that I can't hate myself for the errors I make. I can't see myself as a failure, rather a work in progress. Actually, being able to truly look at myself is a sign that I can rise above my purely animal instinct to see how I am and am not of service to my purpose as well as to others and God. I look at my traits and see how I have used them in and out of proper measure. I am not defective; I am human and make errors in judgment and discernment. This allows me to:
2) Return—I return to my higher self by repairing damage, knowing that I also have to have a plan on how not to repeat the same exact action. I have to make the people/ideals/God/self whole again by sewing the fabric of connection to all of the above entities stronger than they were originally. This leads me to:
3) Response—I have a new response instead of an old reaction to Life's Messiness. In situations where I was out of proper measure, I respond with actions that are in proper measure. I control my instinct to Re-Act and respond in a new manner. This is the essence and goal of T’Shuvah.
I don't want to suggest that T’Shuvah makes life less messy—it doesn't! T’Shuvah allows me to deal with the messiness of living in a more proper manner. It allows me to feel more secure and at home in my skin and propels me to live from my higher/Divine instinct more often.
There is no panacea, no pill, no exercise that will cure the messiness of life. And, when we reach a tipping point of people who are "Addicted to Redemption," we will no longer stay stuck in the problems of life being messy, we will become I. The solution is to deal with each mess, one at a time, without the need for blame and shame!