I came in this morning with Amira and we discussed my decision to do the "100 day thing." It took me weeks, in the middle of a war, the kidnapping and murder of the boys, a bad car accident, etc. to figure out what bothered me about the 100 day happiness challenge.
Each time I saw my friends post, I felt like Scrouge - what did I have against happiness? Why didn't I step up and take the challenge? My dear friends, two of whom are the most Emunah-filled women I know (Emunah is translated as faith, but it is so much more...another post on that, I guess) and neither named me specifically - they simply dedicated themselves to posting each day, things that made them happy.
A cousin did challenge me specifically. I hadn't heard from her during the entire war and while I know she is going through tremendous medical challenges, that silence hurt. It also helped me to crystallize so much - I responded that while my country was at war, no, I wasn't up to the challenge. That made me feel even worse. If anyone has a right to focus on their own lives, she does...
So, I didn't take the challenge.
And then, last night, it became so clear. Happy is a wonderful thing...but it isn't THE thing. It isn't what determines our life and it is fleeting. What makes one person happy may not have the same impact on another. I think the intention of my friends and my cousin was correct - but the word was wrong and, right or wrong, I got stuck on the word.
It isn't about happiness or gratitude - that is the result of what it is about. And what it is about - is blessings. Knowing that God gives us blessings each day, every day.
Even in war; even at the worst moments in our lives. Even, God help us and may it never happen again, on the day we bury a loved one - even then, God is there, sending His blessings...even when we aren't happy.
So, I have taken the challenge, but made it mine. Not happiness, not gratitude - for me, these are the wrong end of the process, not the right word. For me, the direction is the blessing which brings us, so very often, the happiness, the gratitude - but yes, sometimes the sadness.
Sherri Mandel wrote a book that I recommend you buy...and keep on your shelf. I don't know if I recommend that you read it, though you should. It is called The Blessings of a Broken Heart - written after her beloved oldest son, at the age of 14, was brutally murdered by a Palestinian.
You can't be happy; perhaps you can't even have gratitude for such a crime...but she managed to find the blessings, even in such a horrible thing. The parents of the three teenage boys, Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal, have recently spoken about how it is very likely that the murders of their sons began a chain of events that led this country to war...and to the discovery of attack tunnels that would have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Israelis in a joint Hamas-Hezbollah attack - by land and by air - against Israel. The attack was planned for Rosh Hashana - only 2 and a half weeks from now.
There is no happiness that the boys were murdered; there isn't even gratitude - but there is a blessing. Hundreds, perhaps more, were saved.