Sunday, February 19, 2012

What a wonderful life

I recently watched an interesting show on OWN, you know the new and improved Oprah show. This particular show was an interview with women who are Hassidic Jews. I was inspired, impressed and even a bit envious. I was a nanny for a Kosher Jewish family and was impressed with their deep symbolism and faith. This interview added another layer to my high opinion of the Jewish faith.

The women explained how they live their lives with complete devotion to God. Every action of everyday is meant to show respect and love towards God. From the clothes they wear to the food they eat to their prayers they pray, everything is directed towards recognizing God in their lives. Even a simple door frame holds a mezuzah, ( yeah, I Googled that one ) reminding them of their faith.

A few things that stood out most to me was the absence of all influences from the outside world. No TV, no magazines, no radio, no internet. Ah-maze-ing! Their children spend time reading, educating and bonding as a family. Oprah gave an astounding fact that the average American child spends 7 1/2 hours a day on screen time. The Jewish mothers were shocked and wondered where children would get so much time and if they were not in school.

Oprah then asked some of the children if they recognized famous singer's/actor's names. Nothing but blank stares, the names meant absolutely nothing to them. How would it be? I personally would love to not know most actors names-- how do we as a society hold them in such high regard? For the most part, they are the purveyors of the junk we don't want in our homes! How does a society pay a football player millions of dollars and a veteran just above minimum wage?

None of the children had seen or watched a television, an older child said he could almost imagine what one would look like, but that was about as far as it went. This, as three of my children were laying on a couch watching TV, another two were on computers and the last one playing on a Kindle.

What a wonderful way to live! I think most of us would love to completely shelter our children from a majority of the worldly influences we almost unknowingly allow into our lives and homes. How many times have I vacuumed around children who are not working or helping or studying, but are watching a show that I am not the biggest fan of. I just shake my head and continue to vacuum and vow to make them turn it all off... once I am done cleaning... by myself. I will admit, the TV is a great babysitter but sometimes, it is more of a paralyzing crutch than I would like. I admired that these families were actually using the God given time they are blessed with to focus in on things that actually matter, not the Emmy's or the latest teen actress sent to rehab, but on their family. I sadly, cannot say I have done enough in that area of my/our life.

Another point that was made was in the absence of magazines, TV , etc. A young girl is not pressured by what the world considers beautiful. She is able to become the beautiful girl/woman that she truly is inside, instead of forcing herself into some box, which is usually too small and ill fitting, even for the most perfect of us. What a blessing it is to these young women to not have an ounce of worldly influence on them.

I reflected on this as I spoke with my mother, who now in her mid- sixties, was lamenting to me that she was only able to squeeze two of her three work outs in for the day. How she felt lazy and was worried about the calories she had eaten that day. And I wondered, don't we ever get too old for this? As long as I can remember, my mom has been on a diet, was always exercising and considered herself fat. She used to say she was the size of the side of a barn and sang out " Fatty Fatty two by four..." She had these horrible cartoon stickers scattered around the house of very overweight women in bikini's with skin and fat oozing out from all directions. This is not what our Heavenly Father sees when he looks at his beautiful daughters, why is that all we can see? Was that really how my dear mother saw herself? Did she forget she was a daughter of God? Seriously, don't we ever get too old for the low self esteem of our teenage years?

I have seen many a friend struggle with anorexia. Why ladies? Two things stick out to me on this one. A- No where in the history of the world or in the scriptures have we ever seen women starve themselves so a number on the scale can deem them worthy. It is amazing how an obsession becomes an addiction which evolves into an illness. B- Part of me says you are an adult, if you want to abuse your body, go right ahead. Again, aren't we a little too old for such things of naught? I have never attended a funeral where it was said " If only this dear sister had lost 20 pounds, THEN her life would have meant something "

It saddens me really and I do feel empathy for my dear friends. Believe me, I have spoken many a berating word to myself as I have struggled with Hashimoto's disease. I will tell you now, I would rather get my chubby self onto a treadmill and run three healthy 12 minute miles, than find myself so thin and weak I cannot walk a block or two with my children.

My mind continues to reflect on this intriguing interview of these remarkable women. Their demeanor was as modest as their dress. They were the true meaning of beautiful womanhood. Virtuous and lovely. They had a peaceful glow about them, something that cannot be purchased or created out in our vanity laden society. If it weren't for the whole Christian thing getting in the way, I would almost consider moving across the country to Crown Heights just to raise my family in such a wonderful environment. Especially my daughters ( the whole beard and dark hat/clothes thing is not quite as appealing to me for my sons, sorry! ).

I am inspired and hope to improve my life through their wonderful examples.

Be Grateful!!