Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Behar: Trusting life will bring abundance

Kate and I have a new five month old puppy at home. She's playful and energetic, loves to spend time with her dog sisters and tries to tempt her cat siblings to play with her. I hope you don't judge me harshly, but we named her Pursey because she's supposed to be my purse dog.

Instead, she's a squiggly puppy that can't stand my lap or arms for more than thirty seconds at a time. My instinct is to hold on, capture her in my arms, and teach her to stay with me, but I know if I do that she'll grow scared of me and I won't even be able to enjoy thirty seconds of tenderness. Instead, I let her jump down and chase the cat, nipping at an animal that she'll soon learn is the boss of this house.

It's hard to give up what you want to hold close, trusting that whatever you need will come back to you. In this week's parsha*, the rules of the Sabbatical and Jubilee are passed down to Moshe and the Jewish people. Every seven years the Torah commands Jews to desist from all agricultural work (the Sabbatical year), and whatever the land produces is free for anyone - animal or person - to take. I cannot image taking such a big leap of faith, especially before freezers, canned foods, and non-Jewish grocery stores that cater to my needs!

Strong bonds of trust takes preparation, a strong foundation built on reassurances and hard work. A person cannot trust someone when they've failed to do so many times before. Trust is hard. It's something that your brain and your heart negotiate; a lot of logic and a lot of love go into the mix, and only sometimes do you reach the "right" result.

The Israelites' were prone to distrust after they were shackled as slaves in Egypt, and here G-d was telling them to trust that they would be provided for during a year of fallow fields. Lost, in the middle of the desert, G-d was promising a future full of lush foods, permanent homes, and a bustling community. G-d was asking them to trust at a time when there was a rocky history (a.k.a. decades of slavery) and lost hopes.

Yet, people are magical. We don't give up all hope, even after failing to get pregnant, yearning for kids so bad that you can feel their small breathe upon your skin. Or going into labor, only to lose your baby. Or maybe it's missed birthdays and anniversaries, a parent who's never there, yet you hope that this year they'll show up to help you blow out the candles.

In this week's parsha, G-d tells us not just to hope that tomorrow will be better, but share our hope and things with our neighbors and enemies alike. How can G-d expect a people - who were just enslaved - to trust that life will work out?

I think about the child that will come to our family, hurt and distrustful. We're asking them to give up their old home and choose ours instead, asking him or her to trust us to care for them. Trust us when we say they can lay down their plow and sword and we'll feed them and fight for them. How can they trust us? How can we show them that we'll be here today, tomorrow, and as long as we're alive, when they've experienced such life-changing tragedy?

And for me, how do I trust I'll choose the right child? For us, unlike other bio parents, there's an element of choice, which means I could choose the wrong kid. Right now, I worry I've chosen the wrong puppy. Yet, there's an element of fate - and faith - in expanding your family. Just because Pursey is not who I expected, doesn't make her "wrong," just like a child. Such innocence deserves nothing but overwhelming love - with some strong boundaries, of course. I know that for Pursey, I need to give her the time and space to grow into herself, learn to trust me when I hold her, and experience safety in things I already know are free from danger. I can't expect anything more from the child we'll welcome into our family....hopefully within the next year. (We begin our home study within the next month!)

There are a lot of things you can do to build trust within an adoptive relationship, but it all takes patience and parents' trust that it'll work out. Success is based on me trusting that life will bring abundance. Thankfully, it's brought me so much - Kate, my animals, my amazing community, a new family - that I can do nothing but lay back and hope that my life continues on this amazing path.

*Each week, Jewish communities around the world read a designated section of the Torah, which is called a parsha.