The Messiness of Blessing
Often, it can happen in the shower. Other times, it’s on a run. Now, a newfound, unexpected setting for musing deeply about life takes place in the middle of the night. As a new parent, the early morning hours have become acquaintances for me and my wife, Lauren.
Usually, I am fairly bleary eyed and beleaguered, such that most of my thoughts center on getting back to bad. Last night though, I was more alert and I was processing through some of the struggles I am facing as a new parent. One of them is a usual pet peeve of mine.
I bristle at conversations in our world that are overly saccharine and lack nuance. I have found that to be the case with parenting, where many of my exchanges pre and post baby are about how wonderful and joyous things are, leaving no space for authentic reflection.
One of the things that this has caused within me is a reticence to feel fully “in” as a parent. I mean this less practically and more emotionally. Lord knows, I have changed my share of diapers, completed chores around the house, and been on more errand runs than I can count.
As I reflected at 3:45 am, I recognized that I didn’t feel like I was fully embracing my self as father and my child as my son. So I made a promise then and there that the conversations could still be messy and my experience need not match up with others’ expectations AND I could invest myself more as a father. There’s a well of blessing in being in that relationship.
This is a notion that is developed by the Kedushat Levi in this week’s portion when Avram is told (Genesis 12:2)
וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה׃
I will make of you a great nation,
And I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
And you shall be a blessing.
Once he gets the promise of blessing, why does Avram need the commandment “be a blessing- וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה? The Kedushat Levi notes that the letters that make up that command “to be” are the same four letters that make up God’s name: yud, hay, and vav.
In his mind, the “yud” and “hay” equal God and the “hay” and “vav” equal the Jewish people. Before Avram entered into this relationship, God was the sole bestower of blessing to the world. Once Avram opted in, he activated himself and the Jewish people in perpetuity to also be Blessers. Through engaging that relationship with God, it opened up the divine potential of blessing in all of us.
In other words, God relies on us as much as we rely on God. That’s why it’s “be a blessing” Until now, it was Me. Now that you’re here, you bring joy through blessing. That is to say, once we are in that relationship, joy increases through our actions.
This spoke to my aforementioned feeling deep in the heart of the night. I needed the reminder to activate myself more in this relationship; I want to feel it all authentically and mostly to be in it all. Sure, there have been and will continue to be many bumps in the road. But by being in it, I also know that there’s so much goodness and joy that I have yet to experience.
In leaning into the messiness of this whole parenting thing, I can uncover the great blessings therein.
Shabbat Shalom, Happy Weekend, and Vote!