So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations."
Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.
Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.
So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.
Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake.
Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral.
Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom!