Always A Beloved Child

by Ephraim Portnoy

The Rebbe writes in Sichos Haran (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom) #6:

It is very good to pour out your thoughts before G-d, like a child pleading before his father. G-d calls us His children, as it is written (Devarim 14:1), “ You are children to the Lord your G-d.” Therefore, it is good to express your thoughts and troubles to G-d, like a child complaining and pestering his father. You may think that you have done so much wrong that you are no longer one of G-d’s children, but remember that G-d still calls you His child. We are taught, “For good or for evil you are always called his children.” Let us assume that G-d has dismissed you and told you that you are no longer His child. Still you must say, “Let Him do as He wills. I must do my part and still act like His child.’’

My grandfather. Rabbi Nachman Horodenker, of blessed memory, told the following story: I was once traveling on a ship. We ran out of provisions and were without food for several days. Finally we reached an Arab city, where there were no Jews. An Arab took me in and offered me food. I had not eaten for several days, and quickly washed my hands and said the blessing for bread. I was just about to take a bite, when a thought entered my mind: “ Do not eat the bread of one with a mean eye.” ” A random thought is not without meaning, and I did not know what to do. I had already said the blessing, but I realized the significance of this thought, and was determined not to eat anything of this Arab. Just then another thought entered my mind. “I have commanded the Arabs to feed you.”

You must learn a lesson from my grandfather. A confusing thought may enter your mind, but if you stand firm, G-d will send you another thought to encourage you. Similarly, you may imagine that you are no longer one of G-d’s children. But if you do your part, G-d will eventually send you thoughts of encouragement.

We’re Always His Children

The Rebbe teaches us that in our relationship with Hashem, we must always know that we’re His children. We’re His children whether we deserve it or not. And we’re His children even if right now we don’t feel it. The Rebbe’s advice for somebody who thinks that he doesn’t deserve to be considered Hashem’s child? Believe you are anyways, and keep on acting as thus. What if you don’t feel it right now? What if you are having thoughts that you aren’t? Keep on acting as if you are, and sooner or later you’ll start feeling it again.

The Rebbe gave us this advice concerning our relationship with Hashem. But we can apply this principle to our worldly relationships. It is said that our relationships in this world are meant to model our relationship with Hashem. Our love that we naturally feel for our children is meant to serve as a way for us to understand how much Hashem loves us.

We all know how much we always love our children, no matter how much we have to go through with them. No matter how much they misbehave or get us angry, how much stress and heartache we have to endure for them, we still know deep inside how much we really care about them in deepest way imaginable.

The difficult thing is that our children don’t know that. Too often, they just don’t see our tremendous love and concern, and as they get older they let us know that. If only whenever they started thinking how much we don’t care for them they would know that it’s just a passing thought and that sooner or later they’ll somehow realize the truth of how much we really love them.

We ourselves as adult children of our own parents are also guilty of this. We don’t always feel our parents love for us, and sometimes we also tell ourselves how much they don’t care for us. But as adults, we’re mature enough to know that these are just passing moods. We know that our parents really do care, even if we don’t feel it right now. We know that our bad mood will pass, if not today or tomorrow then sometime.

Don’t Assume Someone Lost Their Love For You

The same thing applies in other relationships. Sometimes we imagine that someone who we expect to love us really doesn’t. Not just a parent – maybe it’s a spouse or a sibling, or even a close friend. We imagine that something they said or did, or didn’t say or didn’t do, is a sign that they don’t really care, that they don’t really like us, that they don’t really love us.

But like the parent who really does love her child even if the child interprets what she does to mean the opposite, it’s very possible that our spouse, our sibling, or our friend, really does care, and we are temporarily blinded for whatever reason it may be.

Yes, our thoughts are meaningful, and we have a right to our feelings and our perspectives. Sometimes we really do feel hurt or ignored by someone who we really wanted to show us concern and attention. And sometimes there are extreme situations.

But the Rebbe is telling us that in general, even if right now all we can see is how much we aren’t being loved, and all we can think of is how we aren’t cared for, still, if we keep on believing that they really do love us, then Hashem will eventually help us to see it.

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