Dear Emuna,

In my twenties, I had a close circle of girlfriends. One by one, we got married, including me. But two remain unmarried. In our thirties, one of married ones pursued an extramarital relationship and stole money from her husband's family, and distanced herself from us when we did not support her choices. Since then, she has divorced and is now remarried. Two of the women in our group still have not found husbands, and I remain very close to a woman who is very special yet remains single. I feel very hung up on the injustice that our former friend, who behaved very badly to her ex-husband, is now remarried with a child on the way, and my wonderful friend remains alone. I know the world is filled with injustice, and "life's not fair", but this is something I'm having a hard time accepting. Your thoughts?

Compassionate Friend

Dear Compassionate Friend,

I am totally empathic to your pain and confusion but I think you already know the answer to your question. Of course the pain of those we love touches us the most deeply and is the hardest to accept. You are to be commended for your love of and appreciation for your friend. On the other hand, the fact that it is personal does not change the philosophical perspective. I wouldn’t phrase it in the negative the way you did (“life’s not fair” “the world is filled with injustice”) but rather remind yourself that everything is in the Almighty’s hands and therefore it is ALL good.

I’m not saying this is easy. I was praying for something recently and when it worked out, I said “Thank God.” Of course it was appropriate to express my gratitude but I realized that even if it hadn’t worked out the way I wanted it to, I should still have said “Thank God,” because however it worked out would have been the way that was best. This is the perspective we all need to internalize – for ourselves, to remain in touch with reality, to remind ourselves that in the areas that really count (the ability to grow and achieve a closeness with the Almighty) life is in fact fair.

With respect to your friend however, what you tell yourself and what you tell her are completely different. You remind yourself that the Almighty runs the world and it is all for the best and you offer your friend only love and compassion.

Travelling with Infant

Dear Emuna,

We are travelling to Europe this fall with our three-month-old baby. Everyone tells us that it’s an easy age to travel and it should be a breeze. I’m feeling a little intimidated and would like to bring a babysitter along. My husband says that we should just listen to our friends and save the money. Who do you think is right?

New Mom

Dear New Mom,

They’re both right! It’s true that infants are pretty easy to travel with, particularly when compared to active toddlers or hormonal teenagers. However, you will probably be exhausted at that point, having had 3 months of no sleep and would probably enjoy the trip more if you could get the occasional nap and break, especially if the two of you want to go out at night. I’m not privy to your financial situation but I would think your ability to be a in a wakeful and relaxed state is crucial to your ability to enjoy the trip and therefore perhaps worth stinting in other areas if necessary. Certainly infants are easier to travel with than older children and one child is easier to travel with than a bunch of children, but nevertheless it is an extra hassle and worth sacrificing in other areas in order to have peace of mind in this one.

Introverted Blues

Dear Emuna,

I have to travel frequently for my job and attend many conferences. I am an introvert and while I can “work the room” where necessary, it takes a toll and I am exhausted at the end of the day. Some of my more extroverted colleagues, on the other hand, seem to have endless energy. Any tips? Is something wrong with me?

Drained in a hotel room

Dear Drained,

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. As a self-proclaimed introvert, you need to recognize that you get re-energized by quiet and alone time. Your more outgoing co-workers get their batteries recharged in social situations. You get yours recharged by spending some time alone in your room. There is no right or wrong or good or bad in this situation. What you are describing is just a reflection of the different types of people that the Almighty has created. Our goal is to appreciate and celebrate our differences and not bemoan what we don’t have.

That’s included in the famous adage from Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is the wealthy man? The one who is happy with his lot.” This doesn’t just refer to physical possessions but to all of the strengths and weaknesses with which we were endowed. There is no difference philosophically with being frustrated and resentful that I don’t have the height and skill of a basketball player and being frustrated and resentful that I am quiet instead of loud or introverted instead of outgoing. Each of us has the exact qualities we were meant to have to allow us to be successful in life and develop our relationship with the Almighty.

Whatever the external pressures may be, there is no one preferred way of being. So just enjoy the gifts that you have and don’t be afraid to take refuge in your hotel room when necessary!