Last week, I spent 3 days and nights at a program together with 60 others of various ages and backgrounds. Throughout the marathon of conversations that these situations tend to facilitate, I heard one particular statement 3 times:
“There’s nothing that special about me.”
Actually, I hear people saying it all the time.
‘I’m not that special’ is one of those thoughts that worms its way into your mind and nests in your heart. When it’s not laying dormant in hibernation, “I’m not that special” strolls calmly along that space between your temples. It’s fed by your attention until it matures from a doubt into an assumed fact. It grows from a soft voice into an incessant static that hides at the base of your neck.
It tells you that unless you prove yourself consistently worthy, you’ll never be special to anyone other than your mother.
But here is the objective truth – you undervalue yourself.
And it’s not just you. We all do it…. undervalue ourselves, I mean. Because it’s impossible to truly grasp the invaluable nature of who we essentially are.
This past weekend, there was the man who lost his job and thus lost his value in society. There was the girl who wore the low cut shirt and high heels, not because it made her feel good about herself, but because it attracted the right kind of attention. There was the woman who kept asking me, “how do I gain my independence?”
…And then there was me.
As confident as I am in my unique nature and inherent value, I have my days where I forget. I have days during which I define my worth according to my GPA or the number of people who tell me that they are touched by my words; when I only deem myself to be as good as the way my hair looks in the mirror.
But I am so much more than that… You are so much more than that.
Regardless of what you do or don’t do, are capable of or incapable of – You. Are. Special.
You are special because G-d actively creates the world and He decided that today… today the world needs you be a part of it. Because you (and everything that you’ve been through and everything you are and everything that you aren’t) are important enough to be created.
Every morning that you rise from your bed, it is because you bring something to the table that no one else can bring.
We just finished celebrating Sukkot. Although the holiday is over, its message has never been more relevant.
Sukkot is holiday that commemorates neither battle won nor land conquered. Rather, it celebrates the fact that G-d cherished and protected the misplaced through 40 years of desert wandering. These were people who did not yet have a homeland and had not yet built a legacy. These were those who lay at the bottom of the totem pole following years of slavery. And yet these were the chosen ones; they didn’t need to ‘do’ anything to be worthy of protection.
Sukkot commemorates the fact that we were and still are loved solely due to the merit of our spirits.
During this holiday, we leave our homes for no particularly logical reason and eat our meals in huts made out of various materials. In these huts, we are sheltered by leaves instead of roofs. In these huts, our skin is cooled not by air conditioning, but by rain. In these huts, our hair is plastered to our face with sweat and our legs are bitten by mosquitoes. Because it is not our appearances which deem us worthy.
Upon entering these outdoor shelters, we leave behind our diplomas and our valued possessions. We abandon nearly everything that we’ve worked our entire lives to accomplish and attain. Because although everything you own and everything you’ve done may be incredible, it is not your achievements which raise the price tag on your significance.
We sit in those huts and look up at the stars and reflect upon our souls. Those tiny sparks of light that, from afar, look like nothing but insignificant flecks of glowing embers… until you draw closer. Up close, they are glorious. Those globes of fire are more massive and powerful than anything we can comprehend.
Each single star has the power of the sun. The sun which has the power to gently kiss with warmth or burn with intensity. The sun whose very existence facilitates life for our entire planet.
And the ability of a star is nothing compared to that spark of G-dlyness which enlivens your being.
You sit in that hut because, regardless of how much you’ve accomplished or ‘screwed up’ in life, you are treasured. Because regardless of how you look, or your job title, or how many people think you’re amazing, or how subjectively ‘special’ of a person you think you are, you are precious.
Although you have hopped from a shelter of wooden boards to that of mortar and stone, the lesson persists. My sister kisses her children to sleep and contemplates, ‘G-d forbid, if my house burned down with everything in it, it would be okay. We would survive it. Because everything important in life is right here.’