Sometimes we face things that we feel we just can't do. We think they are just beyond our abilities. But sometimes these are exactly the things that we're challenged to take up. In our Torah portion, God tells Moses that he has been chosen to rescue the Jewish people from the slavery of the Pharaoh and the cruel Egyptians. He must tell that Pharaoh that God wants him to let the Jewish people go free. But Moses has had a speech impediment since he was a child. He can hardly speak, never mind make the kind of speeches God requires of him. He objects, "I am no man of words ... I'm heavy of mouth and heavy of speech." Moses feels that the task is beyond him. But God reassures him. God reminds Moses that He is the Creator, the One Who made his mouth. God promises to give Moses the power to overcome his limitations and do what he has to. We learn from this how sometimes, with God's help, we can "go beyond," and accomplish things we never thought we could.
In our story a girl finds the strength within herself to overcome her limitations and to do whatever is needed to be done.
"Now Stephanie, please make sure all the kids brush their teeth and are in bed by 8:00," Mrs. Sanders said to the baby-sitter, as she bustled about the house, putting on her makeup and glancing at her watch. "Oh my, the wedding is starting already, I must run," she said, giving her kids a quick kiss goodnight, as she grabbed her purse and rushed out the front door.
"Well," thought Stephanie looking up at the clock on the wall. "Nearly 7:30, I'd better start getting the kids ready for bed."
Having babysat a number of times for the Sanders kids, Stephanie had developed a fondness for the three cute pre-schoolers, but she also knew that they were an energetic handful and she had her work cut out for her.
Tonight was no different. She had finally just about managed to get the two girls, Tricia and Sally, to bed. But little David was still on the loose. Apparently he had just seen a show about monkeys and was now trying his best to imitate their tricks. Last Stephanie had seen him, he was swinging from the coat rack in the hall.
"Okay, two down, one to go," chuckled the babysitter as she went into the kitchen to fill up the milk bottle that little Sally always took into bed.
But just then she heard a tremendous "CRASH!" Running out to the hall she saw David sitting on a pile of coats screaming. He had fallen down from the coat rack.
In the fall, the boy had cut his arm, which was covered with blood. Stephanie almost fainted. "Oh no!" she gasped "Anything but blood. I can't deal with that!"
Always on the squeamish side, Stephanie couldn't stand the sight of blood. At home she would always refuse to bandage cuts and scrapes for her younger siblings because it made her dizzy.
Put on a band aid!" cried David.
"Er ... ah, maybe you can do it yourself?" she asked hopefully, leaning on a chair to support herself.
"No! You have to do it!" the boy wailed.
Suddenly an idea flashed into Stephanie's mind. "The neighbor upstairs can help," she thought. "I'll be right back," she said, as she raced up to the second floor of the two-family house. But when she knocked on the door there was no answer. "Nobody's home!" she moaned.
Returning to the Sanders' living room she found the boy as she had left him although he had stopped crying.
The two girls who had gotten out of bed during the commotion were with him. "Aren't you going to put a band aid on him like Mommy always does?" asked Tricia worriedly.
Stephanie stood still. "I can't just leave this poor kid bleeding," she thought. "But how can I do it? I'll faint if I even touch the ... blood."
She looked down and saw three pairs of eyes staring up at her with confused expectation. "C'mon Steph," she told herself. "You can do it. There's nobody else to do it. He needs your help."
With these words of encouragement, she took the boy by the hand and marched him to the bathroom sink where she went about the task of cleaning and bandaging the wound.
"I can do it. I have to do it," she kept telling herself.
Finally the job was done. "Okay, David," she smiled. "Now get right to bed and no more monkey business."
The kids finally in bed, Stephanie flopped down on the living room sofa. She still felt shaky from the whole ordeal, but she felt really good about herself that she was able to overcome her limitations and do what had to be done.
Q. How did Stephanie feel when she first saw that little David had cut himself and wanted her to put on a band-aid?
A. She was afraid that she wouldn't be able to do it because she was scared of blood.
Q. How did she feel after she bandaged him?
A. She felt good about herself because she was able to do something she didn't think that she could, even though it was hard.
Q. Why do you think that Stephanie forced herself to put on the band-aid even though she hated the sight of blood?
A. Stephanie made a brave choice. She realized that the boy needed help and that there was no one else to do it. Had she been able to find an easier way out she might have taken it. As it was, she was almost forced to overcome her fears and she succeeded! At times, God puts us into situations where we are challenged to do things that we feel are beyond us. When we manage to overcome our limitations, we grow into stronger, more confident people.
Q. Are there such things as genuine limitations or can we really accomplish anything we set our mind to?
A. There are such things as genuine limitations. God put us in a physical world with certain limits that can't be passed. For instance, if David asked Stephanie to make his cut "go away," that really would have been beyond her abilities, and, as much as he might have wanted to be a monkey, he could not have really turned into one. But there are many things that we feel are beyond our grasp that actually are not. Many times we feel afraid or embarrassed to try to accomplish something so we tell ourselves "it's impossible," when it really is possible. If we try to remember things we thought we could never do when we were younger, but now we know that we can, it will give us courage to expand ourselves even more.
Q: Have you ever done something that you thought you never could?
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What strategies do you think we could employ to go beyond our self-imposed limitations?
A. One way would be to reframe our perspective to any given situation. Instead of asking ourselves "Can I do it?" we should ask "Is this something that must be done?" If we focus on the situation, we can often do things we never thought we could. For example, in the story, Stephanie realized the need to bandage David's wound. This empowered her to go beyond her self-imposed limitation of being someone who could never stand the sight of blood. Also, when we turn to God and ask Him to help us to go beyond ourselves for good causes, He will give us ways, as he did with Moses in Egypt, to accomplish things we never thought we could.
Q. Does God have any limitations?
A. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all reality. There is nothing "beyond" Him, because in the ultimate sense there is nothing besides Him. However when God created the world, He did choose to build in certain limitations into the "system." He chose to refrain from doing certain things that He could, in order that the world run the best for everyone in it. It is only because of our own human limitations of understanding that we don't always grasp how everything that God does really is for the best.
Q: Have you ever done something that you thought you never could?