We’ve finished reading through the Pentateuch in my Introduction to the Hebrew Bible class this semester. It’s striking how much of instruction (torah) in these books is about how to actively live out one’s faith in the context of the world in which they found themselves at the time. While many of the instructions given for that time period in that setting no longer apply to our world today (like the animal sacrifices), it does make me think about how to best re-apply the fundamental concepts of loving God and loving neighbor in the world in which I find myself today.
As I look around me, I notice that there seem to be two primary ways that people go about this intentional practicing of their faith in the real world. Both have Biblical precedent, and both seem to be common approaches throughout human history.
Part of any process of transformation is letting go of pieces of who we have been in order to make room to grow into who we are becoming. They challenge so often is that it is necessary to let go of who we were before we have clarity about who it is we are becoming. At least, that is the way it works for me.
It is easy to say that I want to become more authentically me, but it often feels like “me” is more of a committee than a single identity. My strengths and my weaknesses, my light and my shadow, all my dreams and interests and patterns and wounds and talents all mixed up together competing for the ability to direct my life. As I let go of the pieces of me that are no longer serving me, I find myself making choices among all of these competing voices to determine who it is that I will become.
“It is not judgment that breaks the heart, but mercy and love.” ~Hasidic lore
I came across this quote tonight on Facebook, and it seems to sum up my experience of the day in an unexpected way. It’s been a day filled with blessings—full of mercy of love—that took me completely by surprise. And I’ve been on the verge of tears much of the day.
This didn’t make sense to me until I saw this bit of Hasidic lore, and it clicked.