Like Moses, we carry our brokenness with us
I yelled. I really yelled. It was the middle of Passover, coming off a 72-hour Yom Tov and Shabbat span during Minnesota’s Stay-at-Home order, and I was out of patience. I just could not figure out how to get through to my daughter who just would not stop protesting at bedtime, spiraling. I felt terrible afterwards and still feel terrible about it.
The next morning I sat down with all four of my children, together—they all heard the yelling. I was very candid with them: I was tired and out of patience; I didn’t know how else to get through to them at that moment; I don’t like that I yelled and don’t plan to yell again; mistakes happen and we carry those mistakes with us through life.
I asked for their forgiveness and we all hugged.
But I have not yet fully forgiven myself. I know we’re all imperfect human beings and I have raised my voice before. But this felt different. This felt like a moment of failure. I didn’t yell out of anger — I yelled out of exhaustion and emptiness. And the sorry doesn’t change that; it just helps us move on.
I have dedicated so much energy to teaching and “camp counseling” and cooking and cleaning and board games and legos — and truly enjoyed all of it. But in that moment, it all felt in vain; I had an out of body experience — I heard and watched myself misstep.
When Moses came down from the mountaintop carrying the first set of Holy Tablets, he encountered the Israelites dancing around and worshiping a golden calf. We’re led to believe that Moses cast down and broke the Tablets out of anger. But the Midrash suggests that the Holy letters flew off the Tablets and Moses no longer had the strength or energy to support them. The Tablets fell to the ground and shattered.
We know that Moses received a second set of Tablets, but what most are not aware of is that the broken first set of Tablets traveled alongside the intact set all throughout the Israelites’ time in the wilderness and beyond.
Our brokenness is sometimes caused by our lack of energy to handle a situation in the best way. However, we are meant to carry that brokenness with us. It’s how we ensure that the second set of Tablets perpetually stays intact — that we own the blunder and use it as energy for when we are once again exhausted.
And that’s what I’m working on. Using that moment as my fuel to do better—to be a better Abba during those moments when I am spent.
Because we are not perfect. We make mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. But all we can do as parents is strive to do the best job we possibly can.
Our children will grow to be adults themselves. We may not get to enjoy the proverbial Promised Land with our children one day, but we have to remember it’s our responsibility to get them there—and have faith that as long as we do what we can, they will figure out the rest.
We will be okay. And they will be okay, too.