Are You Ready To Move Beyond What If?

Zip Line Fun at Boyne Highlands Near Petoskey Photo by Michigan Municipal League

Sometimes it is appropriate to have faith.

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the mashiach, and though he may tarry, still I await him every day.
– Principle 12 of Rambam‘s 13 Principles of Faith

I remember standing in front of the Kotel, eyes closed mind open trying to absorb everything that was happening around me. I remember hearing אני מאמין being repeated over and over.

I remember being 16 and hearing that if I believed with perfect faith things would happen, good things, amazing things and that one day there would be a reward I couldn’t possibly conceive of because our minds weren’t capable of it. I remember being told not to worry about finding a girlfriend because there was a woman for me and when the time was right we would find each other.

All I had to do was say אני מאמין, I believe.

When Did I Stop Believing?

Did I ever have perfect faith? Did I ever buy completely and wholeheartedly into it all?

I don’t really know. There were definitely times that I didn’t but there were times that I tried. Not just in the hard times, but during moments where I thought, “well maybe.”

But maybe never ever made it to perfect. I never could let go completely and trust without a doubt the way some friends and family did.

Been thinking about it all more and more lately because of conversations with the kids. Been thinking about what my obligation is to teach them about faith.

A Different Place

I am in a different place now. My focus on life is different than it once was. There is a shift in perception and thought. Some of it is because I am letting go of Los Angeles.

My love for the city will never change. It will always be home but unless something exceptional happens my time here is limited. Texas is calling me.

I think about it every day and I am shocked by it. Never thought I would miss it like this. I need to go back.

Are You Ready To Move Beyond What If?

The boys and I have been talking our plans for the future. Been talking about our lives and sharing thoughts, ideas and dreams. Just yesterday we spent these moments talking about plans for the future and how some things would have to be put off for a while.

There is always a reason to do these things later. That reason or reasons is often valid but the longer I live the more I see and the more I see the more I realize time is short.

Parents die, contemporaries die and people much younger than I did. Things happen and you can’t plan everything because life fools you and I realize the time has come to do these things now.

“We’ll never be as young as we are tonight.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Rant

If I have learned anything during the last five years it is that life is filled with twist and curves. If I have learned anything during the last 13 months it is that what you think is impossible often isn’t and that the improbable can happen.

But it is contingent upon your willingness to move beyond “what if.”

I could say there are moments where “what if” saved my life but I could also say there have been times where “what if” was responsible for crushing my heart.

אני מאמין, I believe my obligation to my children is to continue to work on filling my heart and soul with delight. Don’t interpret that as my asking for a license to be a hedonist. It is far from it.

It is permission to not have to earn a million dollars a year to give them the kind of life they deserve. It is permission to focus on writing, doing the kind of things that make heart and soul sing.

The time has come.

And I believe the net result will be a happier and more fulfilled Jack with a net result of becoming an even better father.

No more living and worrying about what if, those days are over.

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  1. Katherine James March 12, 2014 at 9:48 am

    The question ‘what if’ can often be steeped in fear.

    We avoid taking the opportunities we are gifted, because we are afraid of losing what we have (or sometimes we’re afraid of the success we can achieve if we do grasp at the chance offered).

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

  2. Stan Faryna March 12, 2014 at 3:43 am

    What is perfect faith?

    There are examples of it. Abraham, for example, stands out as a man of great faith and we are given many examples of how he lived out his faith.

    The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

    Genesis 12:1

    Abram did as he was told – without down payment or written guarantees of a reward. Abram was not even in the position to define his own expectations or the rewards of his unwritten contract. Furthermore, he would not see all that was promised to him in his own life. And many thousands of years later, though we can better see Abram’s reward better than Abram ever could with his own eyes, the reward continues to be fulfilled and is not yet complete.

    That’s how awesome is the reward for perfect faith.

    But God, we will say, has not spoken with me with a human voice. He has not put his demands into my ear. How then shall I obey His word and do as He commands? Shall I take the recommendations of others that He speaks to me, personally, through the stories of my people? Or the stories of another people?

    From those stories, however, we know that the only rewards that are awesome beyond our understanding and expectation are the rewards promised by God to the faithful – those who do all of what God asks of us. The emphasis is on “all” and not what we might pick and choose to do among the many things these stories recommend to us.

    Worse, however, is that these stories suggest that faith and rewards are only the upside of that relationship with God; there is a downside that is as unimaginably and awesomely terrible as the rewards are awesomely wonderful. God blesses and curses. He promises torments, disasters and death upon the unfaithful.

    In other words, we are not free to do as we wish. We are free to choose, but we cannot escape the consequences of our choices and the consequences of our faithless and ignorant choices shall bear painfully and powerfully upon us, our families, our people, our nation, and, our descendants.

    Ours is a renter’s dilemma because God is an inescapable landlord – He owns it all. Even should we chose to deny His existence and/or the terms of His agreements, the consequences remain and these consequences are not reserved to befall us at the end of human history. They befall us here and now regardless of whether or not we acknowledge the source of our persecutions.

    But even faith is not a simple matter for us who want to be faithful. Even though we should want to be faithful, the intellectual assent must be made effective in our bodies, souls and spirit. In what we do and what we refrain from doing as prescribed by divine law.

    Beyond God, all other rewards and consequences we may hope for or fear belong to our actual or imaginary negotiations with other spirits: evil, human or otherwise. None of these rewards and consequences, however, come with the assurances of history, historical narrative, God, or trustworthy reference.

    If you are not self-deceived, you know your own heart and/or intelligence is unreliable to count as a trustworthy reference. Nor is the soulish word of a friend or member of your family. Such is the despair of existential nihilism (pondered by the modern philosopher) and that despair was made more profound by our own witness to the horrors of the Holocaust which demonstrated to all the world that humanity is not worthy of our faith and hope.

    Regarding faith and what ifs, I believe these issues as I have stated above are the points to ponder, study, discuss, debate and understand. If my thoughts come across heavy-handed and reckless, I sincerely and whole-heartedly apologize. Perhaps, I have failed us in making haste in my response.

  3. Rochelle March 11, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    “if I believed with perfect faith things would happen, good things, amazing things and that one day there would be a reward I couldn’t possibly conceive of because our minds weren’t capable of it…”

    Like someone writing a post that challenges me and confirms what I’ve been wrestling with for too long now.

    Good luck on your journey. Sounds like you’re ready to move beyond…think I am too. Thanks.

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