Some things just take time. In this week's Torah portion we learn how Rebecca wanted children, but she was barren and had to wait a long time after she was married before she became a mother. Yet in the end, after years of hopeful prayers, she not only became a mother - but a foremother of the entire Jewish people! We can learn from this how sometimes the most worthwhile things don't come quickly and we should not give up hope.
In our story, a kid discovers that sometimes all it takes is a little patience - and hope.
Geoffrey burst though the door. "I hate this new school," were the first words that came tumbling out of his mouth. He stomped into the den where his mom was working at her desk.
"I knew I wasn't going to have any friends here, and I was right! I stood by myself like a statue the whole recess and nobody even said hello." He slammed his book bag down hard on the couch with a big, angry scowl on his face that his mom knew meant he really wanted to cry.
"But Geoff," she said, "It's only your second day of school. You've got to give it some time. You didn't make all your friends in the old neighborhood in one day either, you know." She smiled.
"I know, I guess, but still, until I make friends - that is, if I ever do - what am I supposed to do by myself every afternoon, count the flowers on the wallpaper?" he sighed as the tears were starting to break through.
His mother had a lot of work to catch up on, but she also knew that some things were just more important...
"Just hang in there and you'll see. But, I'll tell you what. For today, why don't you and I sit down for a game or two of chess on that fancy new chessboard grandpa got for you?"
"Really? You'll play me?" he smiled. Geoffrey loved a good chess match, especially with his mom, who was good enough to give him a real challenge - but nice enough to give him a break when he needed one.
They set up the game with its carved marble pieces and between playing with his mom and the homemade snacks she served, Geoffrey spent a pretty fun - if friendless - afternoon.
"Can we play again, tomorrow?" he asked.
"You bet!" smiled his mom. "That is, if you'll want to." Geoffrey didn't know what she meant. Why wouldn't he want to; especially now that he didn't have any friends?
Sure enough, the next day they also played chess, though Geoff had to get up in the middle to talk on the phone with a nice kid he'd met in math class. And so it went for a couple more days, although the games were getting shorter and the phone calls were getting longer. He always apologized to his mom after he got off the phone, but for some reason, she didn't seem bothered at all.
At the beginning of the next week, Geoffrey came home from school and calmly tossed down his book bag.
"Ready for our chess match, Geoff?" his mom greeted him. "I think it's your turn to make the first move today." Geoffrey shuffled his feet.
"Um, Mom - it's really nice of you to ask, but I'm kind of busy this afternoon ... I made plans to play soccer with a few of the guys, then maybe meet a couple of more friends for pizza ... you know?"
"I know, but do you know?" she smiled.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, remember why we started this daily chess match in the first place?"
Geoffrey thought. "Because I didn't have any friends," he smiled. "Hey, now I have a lot! I guess things really do work out, with a little time - and little hope."
Q. How did Geoffrey feel at first about living in his new neighborhood?
A. He hated it and felt like he'd never make friends.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw that as time went on, he had made friends and was glad he hadn't given up.
Q. What life lesson do you think Geoffrey could learn from what happened?
A. Sometimes we can feel stressed out about how things don't seem to be working out for us, but if we're patient and stay hopeful, we'll see that most of the time they will work out in the end.
Q. Why do you think Geoff's mom seemed to know from the beginning that things would be okay?
A. She had life experience - that means she had lived long enough to see how life works. She knew that Geoff was a nice kid who had made friends in his old neighborhood and that it was normal for friendships to take a while to develop, so she could confidently predict that after a while, thing would work out here, too.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What spiritual benefit do you think someone could gain by not getting what he wanted immediately?
A. He would develop patience for one thing, which is an invaluable tool for a happy life. Also, he would begin to gain faith in God, as he saw how time and time again, despite unpromising beginnings, things worked out in the end.
Q. What about those instances when we never get a particular thing that we want? How should we react?
A. First of all, as long as there is life, there is hope. So you can never really know how things will work out in the end. However, assuming that they don't, a person can try to realize that God, who was fully aware of what the person wanted, knew that it ultimately was better for him not to have it. This attitude is not only true, but is a key to happiness.