It’s true that I’ve written a bit about the struggles I’ve had over the years, especially the struggles involving relationships with people. It’s true that some of these difficult, confusing, and upsetting relationships have been with people who, for a while, represented the modern Jewish people in my mind. It’s true that I have occasionally felt jaded and hopeless about ever finding any Jewish women who I really resonated with. Well, that is changing.
But it’s not changing because I altered some part of myself to become more likeable — besides, I’ve finally realized that I’m doomed to only be my authentic self. No, this theme of isolation is changing because I have found the shining lights in Instagram’s community of Jewish women.
Before I continue, I want to be sure to give credit where it is due. I have been graced with the friendship of a couple beautiful souls, prior to this particular discovery. I am so grateful for these women (you know who you are!) and how they have blessed me in the ways they have shown up. When I had yet to connect with them, I felt I had no one at all in the Jewish community. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I would have even had the strength to continue on in this quest for Jewish connection.
Interestingly enough, this Instagram thing happened when I had almost shut down the Neshot HaMayim account; I changed my mind last second with the promise to give it one last go with serious effort. It was the next week or so that I saw someone mention another account — a Jewish woman’s podcast and, wouldn’t you know it, she had an Instagram account as well. Not long after, this account I was newly following hosted an “Influencer Conference” of other amazing Jewish women and it was like a treasure chest was revealed to me.
One after another, these women shared a bit of their heart, their callings, and the work that they do. It was insightful and entertaining, but more than anything, I felt hopeful.
This spark of hope has betrayed me in the past. I have learned to distrust and even fear it, when it comes to this kind of thing. I think, though, as humans or maybe just as women, we have to keep trying. I wonder if we have an innate desire or even a need to connect with each other in different ways; a need to reach out and touch another who resonates with each important piece of our lives. Like how the roots of one plant may spread out in different directions, but each and every branch needs nourishment and soil in order for the plant to thrive.
I have been like a plant with half of its roots unearthed and drying up. Hashem has sent me further down the path to find the soil to nourish this part of myself.
What is the lesson in all of this? Why am I sharing this with the world?
I think the lesson and the purpose is two-fold. First: be a light. You never know who might be walking a dark path, or who might be blessed by the illumination you offer. When you brighten the world that surrounds you, things become more clear. And when your surroundings are clearer, you can more easily follow the path that is revealed to you, as well.
Secondly: be willing to soften. Somewhere today, I saw written, “nothing will ever change if nothing ever changes”. I don’t think perpetual openness or perpetual softness is wise. I think there are occasions in which we need to firmly close ourselves off. But the trick seems to be staying diligent and probing for those moments when the potential reward is worth the risks that come with vulnerability.
Blessed is Hashem, Who gives us illuminations to guide us in the day and night, and Who softens hardened hearts.