It is late and I am tired. As the day winds to a close and the year comes to its end, I steal a moment to reflect. I feel the yearning of being closer to God, but the chasm between us seems vast. Sometimes my lack of understanding feels like a loss of connection and I feel far from Him. How can I, a vulnerable, petty and small person, possibly relate to God’s awesome might and goodness? Perhaps it starts by finding the godliness in myself.
When this feels impossible I remind myself that God is our Father. I can connect with that because I am a mother.
Sometimes when my children come to me, as children tend to do, complaining about their sister or their brother, who is annoying, doesn’t listen, talks too much, can’t keep a secret… I want to say to the complainer, “Enough! I don’t want to listen to this! He is also my child and I don’t want to hear all his faults. Can’t you just work it out?”
Then I think that this displeasure must be what God feels when He hears us complaining about each other, gossiping and bearing petty grudges.
And sometimes, when I have taken my children on a full day trip to someplace outrageous and spent untold dollars, time and energy on pleasing them and they whine that they are thirsty, tired and sunburned, I want to shout, “I gave you everything today! Can’t you thank me instead of complaining?”
And I think this disappointment must be what God feels when we complain about nonsense, sitting inside our warm houses, filled with the good food He fed us, comfortable inside of our healthy bodies.
Sometimes when I see my children wasting time or lazing around before a big test I want to shout, “Go study! Do something to help yourselves. The answers won’t just come into your head without effort.”
Then I think this frustration must be what God feels when He sees us waiting around for things to get better in our lives instead of trying, doing more mitzvot, working harder on ourselves.
The job of a parent is so difficult. It can be frustrating and disappointing and worrisome! How much more so to the Father of the entire world?
Yet there are times when I see one of my children rising to comfort another who has fallen or failed somehow and is hurting because of it and I think the warmth I feel must be what God feels when we come together to pray for a sick Jewish child, to learn in their merits, to comfort their families.
And sometimes, when my children overcome the playground politics and rise above peer pressure to do the right thing, the brave thing, I think the pride I feel must be how God feels when He watches us trying our hardest to live as good Jews in a world that wants to pull us down.
Sometimes when my children gather together to play, or to sing at the Shabbos table with their arms around each other I think that the nachas I feel must be what God feels when He sees us joining as one at Jewish gatherings, reaching out to each other in unity, feeling our brotherhood.
And sometimes when a child of mine is sick and I rock them in my arms and hurt with them I think this pain must be what God feels when He sees His children suffering and wants only for them to be better, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Sometimes when I have been angry and my children are contrite and walk around downcast and promise to try harder I think the relief of forgiveness must be what God feels when we return to Him in teshuva and He accepts us again.
And late at night when I look at my children in their beds fast asleep and I watch their peaceful breathing and the graceful shadows of their lashes on their cheeks, I think the hope I feel about the coming day must be what God feels when He takes our souls in His hands each night, and gently, gently places them back in our bodies.
Parenting is rich and rewarding and joyful; we would not trade it for anything in the world. How much more so for the Father of us all!
So when the shofar blows at Neilah, during the close of Yom Kippur, and the shivers run up my spine, I feel cleansed and forgiven, loving and loved, contrite and determined, humbled and proud. I am able to believe in that moment in humanity’s goodness and in my own goodness as well. Then I think I know what God feels when He looks at His world full of flawed, beautiful creatures and He decides again and again to love us, to forgive us, to bless us anew.
Because we are His children.