“I am like a lost object.” (31:13)
I find myself challenged when I need to attend social functions without knowing many people. An introvert by nature, I want to find a corner and fade into it. However, I don’t let my instinct define and limit me. Instead, I find someone to talk to. Maybe it will lead to conversations with a second and a third person, maybe not. If I leave the event having had a good conversation with at least one person, I consider that a success. The key, when feeling lost, is to find strength in your emotional and spiritual center and not give in to weakness.
“You have lifted me up” (30:1)
We all need a hand now and then. I love the moment in a football game right after the defensive player has flattened the running back, when he offers him a hand up. I feel the same when a tennis player overrules the umpire and awards a point to her opponent, or when a runner stops running to help up another who has fallen. In business, competitors sometime refer customers to each other when they know the other company can fulfill a particular need better than they can. Competition is good when we play fairly by the rules and when it challenges each of us to become better.
“May Adonai grant strength to God’s people;
may Adonai bless God’s people with peace.” (29:11)
Strength and peace — These two concepts are rooted in the classic military theory of preventing war (or winning war) through projecting power. No one dares to attack the strong nation, because the weaker nation would face virtually certain defeat. We hope the strongest nation uses its leadership and power for kind and loving purposes. Otherwise, when the powerful begin exercising power for their own enrichment, those around them join together to take down the tyrant. May we be granted the strength to achieve peace and the wisdom to use it for just purposes.
“Pay them according to their deeds.” (28:4)
Reward and punishment do not always work out perfectly. Sometimes, good people do not prosper and evil people do not suffer. However, most of the time, in the long run, goodness is recognized. People are attracted to good people. They will have better and deeper friendships. Good people will tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives. Truly good people do not do good things because of recognition or reward. Goodness is not a tool to be used as a means to get something. Good deeds are an end unto themselves.
“Lead me on a level path.” (27:11)
The middah, or character trait, of hishtavut, equanimity, suggest that one ought to live one’s life on an even keel. Bad things will happen, but most of them are not worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. Yes, it is inconvenient when your car won’t start, gets a flat tire, or breaks down. Yes, it is upsetting when someone is rude to you at work, at the gym, or at the supermarket. But you have a choice. You can carry around your anger and let it affect your future interactions, or you can shrug off the anger, keep on the level path, and leave the upset behind, allowing you to continue to embrace the world cheerfully.