Last week’s stretch of the week was: Think of a situation in your life that you might not be so happy about (maybe your parents said that you can’t sleep over at a friend’s house, or maybe you tried out for the leading part in the play, but your best friend got the role instead of you). Think about your upsetting situation and tell yourself at least one time each day for one week, “Everything HaShem does is only for the good—this situation ____ is also for my good”). Keep a chart and make a star on every day that you say this.
אל תסתכל בקנקן אלא במה שיש בו
Al Tistakel BaKankan, Ella B'Ma SheYaysh Bo
Don't Look At A Pitcher But At What It Contains
In Pirkai Avos (4:27) Rabi Meir used to say: Do not look at the flask, but at what is in it. There may be a new one that is full of old wine, and an old flask that doesn’t even have new wine in it. We learn from here that we shouldn’t just look at the outside of a bottle, rather look deeper at the inside where we might find something valuable.
Camp Judah: Adventures On The Bus
“I can’t believe we’re here!” I exclaimed, looking directly at my best friend Shoni who wore her polka-dot tee shirt with a matching headband.
“Camp Judah, here we come!” she yelled back, her voice trailing off and mixing into the rumble of the bus motor.
It was the beginning of the second trip and we were almost at our sleep away camp. Shoni and I had planned all year long for this. We would hang out together, be best friends, be in the same bunk, and go on sleepovers together. Summer would be awesome. I looked out of my window and smiled happily to myself.
Just then from the back of the bus I heard a scream. “OMG, Shoni, is that really you?”
I looked back as the bus rolled over another bump. A girl with brown hair pulled back into a French braid was screaming in our direction. I turned more to see her. She wore a designer sky blue tee shirt, matching jean skirt and canvas shoes that jumped up and walked towards Shoni.
“Dee! How’d you get here?”
I watched my best friend hug “Designer Girl” and walk to the back of the bus. I stayed twisted as I watched the two of them giggling and telling secrets.
'What about me?' I thought. I felt a pain in my upper stomach, and my eyes felt heavy. I slid back in my seat and hugged my knees into my chest. I wanted to jump off the bus and run home. Suddenly I knew I would hate camp and I didn’t want to go.
I turned around again and saw Shoni talking about the good times she and Dee had in LA two years ago on their Chanuka vacation. As my friend’s voice trailed off, I knew that Shoni was also great friends with Dee. But why was this new girl here stealing my best friend away from me? And how would I survive summer camp with all of our plans ruined? I decided to stand up and walk over to the girls.
“Hi guys.” Dee looked down at my shoes. They were plain white tennis shoes with stains from stream hiking with my family on July 4th.
“Nice shoes,” she remarked. She and Shoni giggled. 'Why were they giggling about my shoes?' I thought.
“I’m Sarah,” I said, waiting for Shoni to tell Dee how we were best friends and everything, only that didn’t follow.
“I’ll come back up front soon, Sarah, go and wait.” Shoni pointed towards the front of the bus, ushering me to return to my seat.
As I walked to the front of the bus, I noticed a few other girls move closer to Shoni and Dee. They too were dressed with matching designer outfits and cute shoes. I heard laughing from the back of the bus, and I sat alone in my seat and stewed. These girls were perfect, I wasn’t. Dee knew how to talk to my friend, how to dress great, and how to attract other girls around her easily. I didn’t. There was just something about her that I just didn’t have. I was plain, boring, simple, with stained shoes that I liked. But somehow I didn’t feel so good.
Then I began thinking about last year in school. We had had an art contest to see who could draw the most life-like portrait. My entry won, and I was given $500. My family and friends made a big deal about it, and everyone was so proud of me. I smiled, thinking about my talent.
I looked to the back of the bus where there was now loud laughing. What could I do to fit in? I was so different than these girls. Then I remembered how talented I was too. I smiled and got up, walking to the back of the bus to join the girls. They were seated and talking about the art competition in our school.
Just then Shoni blurted out “Sarah won that.”
Dee looked at me and said, “I’m also into art, wanna see some samples?”
“You are?” I said.
Dee turned around and pulled out a few small cards with designs on them. They were colorful and cute. She handed me one.
“I love it!“ I said, looking up.
'Dee loves art too, nice,' I thought to myself.
“And I also went stream hiking with my family on July 4th.” She began to laugh. “My dirty shoes are in my suitcase.
Shoni looked at me and said, “Sarah, come sit closer.”
As I sat down next to the girls and laughed at their corny jokes, I realized that I had jumped to too many conclusions about Dee and the girls too quickly. And even about myself. She wasn’t a snob designer girl, but rather a girl who dressed well and with a lot of talent. I wasn’t a nobody, I had a talent. I smiled to myself happily. I was glad that I hadn’t totally given up on myself, my summer and the girls. And, I was glad that I was able to see both myself and Dee with a good eye.
Story published in the Baltimore Jewish Times, July 24, 2014.
How do we benefit from taking time to see the whole person (with a good eye)?
Which way do you chose to look at someone? Do you notice yourself judging them right away?
In what way do we write people off quickly or tell ourselves, “Forget about it, they are never going to be my friend.”?
Stretch of the Week:
Be on guard this week for quick judgments about people. When seeing people who you might immediately write off, wait a few minutes and imagine a few positive qualities about the person. (You might see an overweight person in the bank, for example. Wait and think to yourself, 'Maybe they are really smart' or 'I like the way they talk'.) See how many positive qualities you can find in that person.