16 Av 5780 / Thursday, August 06, 2020 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Let the Other Guy Win    

Let the Other Guy Win

We have to ask ourselves now, while we can still change and still do something about it, how much do we really care for our family members? How giving are we, really?


I've been with a lot of people in the minutes and hours before they were about to pass away. It's amazing to see the radical personality changes that can happen with a terminally-ill person who knows they are imminently about to die.


This insight into our final moments on earth was one of the biggest gifts of my life, because people who are about to pass on to the next world don't fake it. All of a sudden, they have clarity about what's really important in life. And it's not money; it's not degrees; it's not the honor that other people give them, or the “buzz” from making another multi-million-dollar deal. It all boils down to how much love they received, how much love they gave others, and the quality of their relationships with their friends and relatives.


Please G-d, we'll all be around until 120 years old, but we don't have to wait until those final moments to start making a thorough accounting of our own relationship equations, starting with our own families. We have to ask ourselves now, while we can still change and still do something about it, how much do we really care for our family members? How giving are we, really? How much do we communicate to our loved ones, on a regular basis, that we are willing to give it all up, if need be, for them?


Most of the time, G-d doesn't actually call us on our commitment to go the extra mile for our loved ones, but our relatives themselves can feel our sincerity - or lack of sincerity - at every stage of our interactions with them. The eyes are the windows of the soul, and our spouses and children know exactly what we're really feeling.


When people genuinely feel that the other person would go the distance for them, whatever it takes, however hard it might be, regardless of the amount of self-sacrifice required, the conflict completely goes away, and all of a sudden, compromises can happen so easily. I've seen people completely reverse firm opinions in a few seconds, that they hadn't budged on an iota for weeks, months and even years.


In every conflict situation, there always has to be a winner and a loser. Be the bigger person, and let the other person win - and when you do, G-d will give you, as a present, a whole new quality of life, and vitality. He knows that backing down doesn't come easy to any of us. Once we show Him that we're prepared to put peace and connection ahead of our own feelings of pride, He'll take care of the rest, and He'll give us every imaginable blessing, including great kids, marital bliss, health, income - you name it.


G-d sends us these challenges, particularly these relationship challenges, because He doesn't want to give all the goodies away for free. You just can't beat the feeling you get when you earned something, compared to just being handed it on a plate. How amazing it is, when we've earned those good feelings, that good marriage, those good kids…


But these rewards don't come easily. We have to stay in the game, and not withdraw from it, or rebel against G-d and the direction He's taking our lives in. If we manage to do this, we'll end up a calm, in-control, empowered, person who has no anxiety, great self-esteem and joy. And those people live much longer, happier lives, and they make a much bigger positive difference to the world around them.


Once you get to that place, you'll be able to make the unique contribution to the world that G-d created you to make, and that no-one else can do.

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