23 Cheshvan 5782 / Friday, October 29, 2021 | Torah Reading: Chayei Sarah
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The Lump    

The Lump

Suddenly, I felt a lump: the old me would have been in suspense for a month, depressed, miserable, worried and stressed to the max. This ‘thankful’ me has been quite different.


As a rule, I’ve never much liked my birthday. Traditionally, birthdays for me have fallen into one of two categories: either I try to make an effort to go out, or have people round and ‘celebrate’ – and I end up feeling a little bit deflated and depressed. Or I don’t, and I end up feeling a little bit deflated and depressed.

But this year was different. This year, my Hebrew birthday fell out a few days before my English birthday. I was lounging around in bed when I felt ‘it’ – it being a lump that had definitely not been there even a couple of days before.
Panic. Shock. Horror.
For about five minutes, I tried to persuade myself that I was simply being hysterical; that there wasn’t anything ‘real’ there, and that I was probably imagining the whole thing. I called my husband in for a second opinion. “There’s something there.”
Gulp. It was Shabbat, so there was nothing for it but to try and forget all about it, and get on with enjoying the holy Sabbath. In the past I would have found that impossible. But thank G-d, I could see very early on that I was coping infinitely better with the situation than I would have at any other time previously.
Once Shabbat was over, we phoned for an appointment to get the ‘lump’ checked out. Hashem, in His kindness, arranged the appointment for Tuesday afternoon. Just long enough for me to do some real soul-searching, introspection and teshuva, but not so long that I would find it too hard to deal with all the uncertainty.
Sunday, I did a couple of hours of hitbodedut. Monday, I did a couple more hours of hitbodedut. Tuesday, I left the house early and drove to the old city, for a six hour session of hitbodedut before my appointment with the doctor.
Before I read ‘Chochmat Nashim’ (Women’s Wisdom), the new book by Rav Arush, I would have complained and moaned and bewailed my fate. “Hashem, why did you have to send this to me now, when I’m just starting to feel happy again for the first time in years? Hashem, can’t you give me a break?” etc etc.
I didn’t complain once. Instead, I sat by the Kotel and for an hour, I thanked Hashem for sending me this test. And then, He sent me some amazing insights into just why He did it.
I’d spent almost 36 years of my life moaning and complaining, crying and miserable, convinced that life wasn’t really worth bothering about. Every time I hit a rough patch or a hardship (and there have been plenty, thank G-d!) deep down, I’d have this feeling that I’d be more than happy to throw in my cards, when the time came. Life was hard, and more often than not, I just didn’t feel it was worth all the hassle.
The lump changed all that.
Hashem timed it so precisely that after two weeks of thanking Him and beginning to see all my blessings in life. He sent me a test to really cement into place the feeling that life was a gift, a privilege.
I wanted to be around to look after my kids, and watch them grow up. I wanted to be around to look after my husband, and just to continue to enjoy his company. I wanted to have at least the same amount of time that I’d spent moaning and complaining to be thanking and praising Hashem for the privilege of being alive, and living in Eretz Yisrael.
I finished my six hour session so calm (at least for me…) and weirdly happy. I just knew it would be ok – I’d got the message, and Hashem didn’t need to crank up the volume any louder. The doctor confirmed that ‘something was there’, that should be checked out by a mammogram, but was otherwise quite reassuring. He wrote ‘suspected fibroids’ on the form he gave me to take to the hospital, and when we looked it up on Wikipedia, it sounded like a very minor thing indeed.
I got my results back last week, and as the doctor suspected, there is nothing serious going on, thank G-d.
The old me would have been in suspense for a month, depressed, miserable, worried and stressed to the very max. This ‘thankful’ me has been quite different. I was grateful for the test right from the beginning, and that by itself made it so much easier to cope with.
When my English birthday came round, a few days’ after my initial visit to the doctor, I didn’t spend hours agonising over additional white hairs, or trying to spot ‘new’ wrinkles, or feeling down that another year had passed without any obvious signs of ‘progress’, particularly on the babies front.
Instead, I felt really grateful to be alive and to be having another birthday – for the first time ever. The whole situation brought home to me just how privileged I am that for the most part, I’m healthy; my husband is healthy; and my kids are healthy.
The lump was a gift, and birthday present from Hashem. Without emuna and gratitude, the situation would have been horrible. With them, I ended up with a few more insights into myself, a lot more genuine teshuva, and many more profound reasons to thank Hashem.

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