The Abused Wife and Yom Kippur
I heard this powerful story in a class* taught by one of my favorite teachers, psychologist Chani Juravel, on the High Holidays. And it made me cry. It made me realize the extent to which I, like Chani Juravel’s abused client, had also been envisioning Hashem standing over me with a report card. How wonderful to approach Yom Kippur imagining Hashem’s accepting embrace instead.
Psychologist Chani Juravel recalled:
I was working with a woman a few weeks ago. The moment I saw her, my heart was filled with sympathy. She started telling me her story. How she was terribly neglected as a child, and how any love she received was terribly conditional.
“If you do this, then I’ll give you that.”
“Oh, you’re so pretty, so I’ll give you…”
And she entered into a marriage that was all about setting the bar higher and higher. She would never be deserving of her husband’s love. And she lived her life in constant fear. Afraid she wouldn’t get it right. Afraid she wouldn’t be deserving. Afraid she would be even that much more beaten down.
I asked her, “What do you imagine would alleviate your fear? What would it take for you not to live afraid?”
She told me, “I know what it should take, because I went to a class. And the teacher taught us, ‘You’ll never know if you’ve done a good job. You’ll never know if Hashem is really happy with you. You’ve got to just keep plugging away, you’ve got to keep wanting, and when you die you’ll know that Hashem was really happy with you if He looks at you and says ‘Good job!”
And the woman said, “So, I guess if Hashem said that to me, then that would be OK. But that won’t be until I die.”
I told her, “You know, it’s amazing that you allow yourself a vision of God in your life. But I don’t know if that’s the healthiest vision. And I don’t know if Hashem is standing over us with a report card. Let’s shift the vision. You don’t have to wait until you die…”
“When you wake up every morning, and before you get out of bed, you envision Hashem hugging you and holding you and saying, “I really hope you have a great day, because I’m rooting for you and I’m here for you, and I think you’re great. I know you’re great, and I want you to know how great you are.”
That was on Tuesday, she called me on Friday 10 minutes before Shabbos and she said, “That changed everything. Thank you”
*Heard on the Chazak Hotline