Of all the images in Torah, the fleeing Israelites facing the (as-yet-unparted) Red Sea has a special place in my heart. Long before I started using these readings as a weekly exercise to view personal process, I understood the challenge of facing a challenge and having no frigging idea what the &^$#@%^ to do next.
We often feel like we’ve come so far. Made it through so much. Made a shift, made some progress, on the road to somewhere better. It’s time for celebration even reward, not another rough patch. I’m willing to enjoy kale chips instead of cookies, so it doesn’t seem fair for a giant new obstacle to appear on the path. Not just a daunting one. But a test to my skills, imagination, and commitment. Even my faith in the process itself.
The old saying goes No way out but though. Or in this metaphor, in.
The classic commentary is of the guy who jumps first. Supposedly the sea did not part until the water reached his nostrils. This while most of us are standing around muttering about making a u-turn back to slavery, aka the known, even with its known bad results.
The waters rarely part quite so easily for me or mine. There’s almost always more drama, even when we think we’re in well past our eyebrows. As I’ve paced the edge of my own Red Seas, I’ve paid attention to my reluctance to jump-start change. A recipe for resistance that includes fear, denial, laziness, and contentment….. plus knowing that change has a compelling momentum of its own, as in, more change happens next, and keeps happening. Add your own favorites.
I’m great at vow-making, drawing lines in the sand, and dipping a couple toes at a time in and then out when the water is cold or the undertow is scary. I’ve gotten wet up to my ankles more often than I can count. But to fully commit without turning away or back, still hard to do.
Each edge is a doorway for the next transition. We’re being asked to say Yes, and… and to follow through, no matter how scary it looks or feels.
In the classic before and after pics used in gym and weight-loss commercials, progress is promoted as effortless and speedy. But any of us who’ve tackled a big shift know there’s a whole lot more middle than advertised. That comes later. But unless you take that first big step now, you’re gonna stay stuck on the “before” shore. I can’t guarantee any seas will part. But I can testify that you will feel better once you begin to change your story.
You’re likely to keep basics like your name and your incarnation. But you might have to choose to recommit or leave a partner, job, home, or health regimen. What you gain from leaping over all that resistance is a new sustenance that the metaphor of manna offers: knowing that you are capable of change. To get to your own version of “after,” you need to keep believing in that.
For now, jump in and keep breathing. Oh yeah, sing and dance often on the next edge.