Tools for Elul: Amy Leaman

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If you want a career change so much, why aren't you sending out five resumes daily? If you feel so overweight, why aren't you out there exercising? If you're so [insert adjective], then why don't you just [insert change action]? If not now, when?

Imagine being afraid to take that first step to be your own advocate. Envision your worry about making a mistake, or having others judge you as selfish for following your dreams. Ponder how you fear change in general. For some, those thoughts make "If Not Now, When?" seem more like a frustrated rebuke rather than a message of empowerment. What if you hear impatience from the one who asks you "when?" What if you hear disappointment? An ultimatum?

"If Not Now, When?" then gets shut down with one word: "Never." It's followed up with, "I don't know," and then with, "I give up."

How do we get beyond that? How do we draw strength from those places within us where it hides, desperate to get out, but not sure how to emerge? How do we find support from others in a way that doesn't deplete them, but instead continues to fill them up as we fill ourselves up? How do we reconcile that "there is a time for every purpose under heaven" with "how do I know when that time is?" How do we battle the "What Ifs?"

Perhaps there isn't a single answer to the original question, as in, "2:00 pm this Thursday," or "as soon as I get that extra experience that makes me stand out."

Perhaps the answer changes each time we ask the question, shaped by the current factors influencing our lives. Perhaps the journey of trying to answer the question is enough, as we use it to learn more about ourselves: what we want, what we need, and then later, what we can give. It's the quest that teaches us how to be for ourselves, and yet not ONLY for ourselves.

Perhaps it's the journey that helps to make us stronger. Now.

-Amy Leaman, Congregant and Board of Trustees Member

Rodef Shalom