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Beshalach(Exodus 13:17-17:16)

Problems Aren't Forever


One good thing about problems is that they don't last forever. When the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt, it felt like they'd never be free. But God did free them with great miracles. We, too, shouldn't let our problems crush us. Instead, let's give ourselves a boost by remembering that almost every problem we have now will someday be behind us.

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In our story, a kid discovers how the right attitude can make problems less hard to take.

DOUBLE VISION

Amy squinted in the mirror and shook her head. If it had been a fun-house mirror in a carnival, she would have been able to laugh, maybe. But this was the real thing and so were those ugly glasses that made her face look like some kind of Martian with goggles!

No matter which way she turned her head, she looked horrible. Ever since that stupid appointment with the eye doctor had doomed her to wearing glasses - she was just about the only one in her class who had to wear them! - she'd been miserable.

"Hey, Amy, are you ever coming out of there?" her older sister, Debbie, called.

"I've got to go out to baby sit soon and you've been double-parked in front of that mirror way overtime."

"Sorry, Deb," Amy sniffled and made way for her sister to get in.

"Hey, you look like you've been crying. Is everything okay?" Debbie asked, noticing her sister's teary red eyes.

"How can anything be okay, when I've got 'them'!" she sputtered.

"Got what?" Debbie asked, confused.

"Don't you see these gross glasses I'm wearing? How can I go to school? How can I ever show my face in public again?"

Her sister nodded her head. "Well, you look like your cute old self to me, but I guess it is a pretty tough stage to be going through."

"What do you mean, stage?"

"Well, it's not going to bug you forever, you know," Debbie smiled as she ran a brush through her hair.

"How do you know?"

"Well, in case you haven't noticed, I'm wearing glasses, too."

"Yeah, that's right. Why doesn't it bother you?"

"It sure used to, when I first got them at your age. I guess super-precocious nearsightedness runs in the family," Amy cracked a half-smile despite herself as her sister went on. "But by now, more than half the kids in my class already wear 'em, so it's no big deal. Anyway, I'm just used to them by now and you'll get used to them, too. You've just gotta hang in there and you'll be fine."

"Yeah, well that's easy for you to say..." her tears returned. "But what if I'm different? What if I never get used to it? What if this terrible way I feel lasts forever?"

"Like Cindy Jackson?" Debbie asked.

"Who?"

"What? You mean to tell me you don't remember?"

Amy thought and shook her head.

"Cindy Jackson was the kid who used to pick on you in pre-kindergarten - red hair, sharp fingernails. Remember?"

Amy scratched her head, trying to remember.

"She used to be the biggest problem in your life. I can't even count how many times you used to bawl your head off to me about her," Debby went on.

"Oh, I think I remember now ... maybe," Amy said.

"So, I suppose you're going to start crying over her again, huh?"

"Nah, why should I? That was ages ago. I'm way over that..."

"Oh, really? You mean to tell me that something that seemed so terrible to you back then can actually pass and not hurt anymore?"

Amy looked up into her sister's smiling eyes and giggled.

"I guess so - and I get your point, too. But how does that help me now?"

"Because, if you want, you can try to imagine how you're going to feel when this problem's past you, then just borrow some of the good feelings for now. Hey..." she looked at her watch. "I've really gotta run. See you later!" With that, Debbie grabbed her carry-bag and was out the door.

Like a magnet, Amy's face went back to the mirror. The glasses were still there, but somehow, after talking with her sister, they - and her problem - didn't look quite as bad, anymore.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Amy feel at first about her glasses?
A. She felt like she'd be upset forever.

Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt like she'd be able to get over it.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Amy learned?
A. She'd felt like the problem she was facing was never going to pass, but talking with her sister reminded her that problems nearly always pass.

Q. Why do you think that made Amy feel better?
A. A lot of times, one of the reasons we can be so overwhelmed by a problem is because we feel like we're never going to feel better. When we remember that almost all problems pass and mostly fade out of our memories, we can feel less overwhelmed by them even now.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. A sage was known to carry a note that he would read in every situation. The note said: "This too shall pass." Why do you think someone would do that and how would it benefit them?
A. Keeping a 'big picture' perspective and remembering that all things pass, can help a person in many ways. When things are tough, it can give them hope to go on, and when things are going well, it can prevent them from getting conceited or acting foolishly.

Q. But some problems really do never pass, is there no way to ever feel better about those?
A. While it's true, there can be a minority of problem situations that never change, nevertheless, we can change. That is, we can change our attitude about a problem so it hurts less. God has built into each of us a tremendous capacity to grow, adapt and make the best of virtually any situation.


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Published: January 31, 2009

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