Rebuilding Series: Sore Thumb Moments. By Marshall Lestz
Good Morning Everybody,
Several weeks ago, while on vacation in Canada, my wife and I were hiking on a beautiful mountain trail. About an hour in, something quite odd caught our eye. There was an unattended baby stroller next to the trail. It looked so out of place. It was folded up and wedged between some rocks on the side of the mountain. It totally stuck out like a sore thumb.
So what happens when you see something peculiar like this? Immediately your mind goes into Sherlock Holmes mode. You start trying to put the pieces together. Why is there a stroller stuck in a mountain? Oh, okay, not such a big mystery. Some exhausted mom or dad probably decided that pushing their toddler 2 miles up a mountain wasn’t as fun as they first thought, so they ditched the stroller and planned to get it on the way back down.
This experience got me thinking about how natural, and perhaps even instinctive it is to try to figure out the meaning behind unexpected and/or weird experiences. When these “sticking out like a sore thumb” moments pop up, we automatically try to figure out “WHY?” But this tendency can cause us a lot of angst when the unexpected occurrence is happening to US… Like pulling into a gas station for gas and all 8 pumps are out of order, or discovering the new bag of cheese you just bought is moldy, or the birthday cake you ordered for Avi says Happy Birthday Chavi. We go right into Sherlock Holmes mode—“How can a gas station not have gas?!” “Moldy cheese? Why are they putting out bags of moldy cheese?!” ”Chavi?! Are you kidding me? How could they make such a bad mistake?” But asking these kinds of questions, which are pretty much unanswerable, can drive us absolutely mad.
But perhaps we can harness our natural tendency to seek answers by asking more fruitful questions. Like, “How can I grow from this experience?”, or “How can I judge this person favorably?”, or “How can I see this encounter as a loving test from Hashem?” In the morning prayer service we say, “Praiseworthy is the person who obeys Your commandments and TAKES TO HIS HEART YOUR TEACHING…” That phrase, “TAKES TO HIS HEART YOUR TEACHING” is huge, because one of the ways Hashem tries to teach us is through our daily challenges! Hashem orchestrates events to create moments that stick out like a sore thumb to get our attention. But then, how do we respond to them?
Do we utilize them productively? Do we use them to gain self-awareness? Do we view them as growth opportunities?
Those “sore thumb” moments aren’t there to poke us in the eye, they’re there to help us re-focus. May Hashem help us to get in the habit of asking healthy, constructive questions that bring out our best, and bring us more and more shalom.
Have an exciting journey today, everybody.
Keep on Building!