I’ve been living in a few narrow places. That’s what the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayyim, means. Narrow Place. When Passover comes along we have to look at where in our lives we’ve struggled with our own narrow places. I don’t have to look far this year to see mine.
My husband has been without a job for several months. That represented a very narrow place. Living in California with not much money in a savings account and a huge mortgage and very little income definitely made us feel as if we were being squeezed from all sides. However, this week he began a new job. The possibility of a job and then the job offer felt like the Red Sea parting. Negotiations and waiting for the deal to be sealed represented the crossing on dry land with the waters threatening to descend at any moment. And now we are standing on the other shore looking backward and looking forward, able to heave a sigh of relief, to take a deep breath and move forward once again.
Our relationship has suffered in the process, my husband’s and mine. He has lost his faith. Mine has been strengthened. I married a man with whom I thought I’d always share a spiritual path. Now, I’m not sure we will ever share that path again. This place in our 20-year marriage feels like a narrow one. I feel I’m living in Mitzrayyim, not necessarily enslaved but restricted, unable to express myself fully, unable to share totally, unable to open myself with abandon to the man I love. I feel squeezed, as if sometimes it’s hard to breath in my relationship. I stand at the edge of the sea hoping for a miracle. All I have right now is the promise that my husband will work on some of his issues and my promise to try and move forward together despite our differences in beliefs and approaches to life. I can’t yet see the other shore. I’m willing to walk into the water, like Nachshon, who walked into the sea when it didn’t part for Moses and whose faith brought about the miracle that saved the Israelites. I have faith that it will part, but I don’t know what I’ll find on the other side of the sea. I wish Moses’ staff and God’s will would create a miracle for me and return my husband’s faith. I don’t want to walk to the other side alone. I know God will be with me, but it’s human companionship I desire as well.
I’ve been in a narrow place at work as well, feeling restricted by the publishing world’s requirements and lack of time and support to do what my agents and publishers require for me to achieve my own goals. I’ve felt that I couldn’t do what I wanted in the way I wanted and at the time I wanted. I was ready to change directions, to tell the literary agent I sought for so long that I had to follow my heart and find another agent that would take my project and run with it now, right now. And then the water parted before my eyes, and my agent agreed to take on my project and to help me find a publisher for it. A miracle. Now I just needed to get to the other side of the sea.
I find myself in a new narrow place between one shore and another. (Do they just follow one after the other?) I am afraid to move forward with this project that lies so close to my heart. (This narrow place is of my own making. It exists in my mind. It’s the “Not Good Enough” thought that underlies so much of what I do and that holds me back. Do you have that thought?) I’m afraid to put myself out there. I have to speak my truth, and I am afraid. I know this narrow place. I know this fear. It has stopped me often, but I know that it is the trepidation that comes when I am on the right path, the path I am meant to take. This time, I must enter the water myself and create the miracle. I must move through my fear and towards my highest purpose. As I do, the water will part and my path will become clear. Then I’ll find myself on the other shore, free, unrestricted, liberated, and successful. When I can fulfill my purpose, write my book and have it published, I will feel the expansion of who I am — to myself and to others. (Not that I couldn’t use another miracle. Not that a little Divine help wouldn’t be nice in the area of finding a publisher and a publishing contract and an advance.) I’ll keep walking with faith that on the other side the other miracle awaits.
Narrow places. How well I know them. How freeing it is to move beyond them. Miracles. Lovely to experience and to create.
Do you know your Mitzrayyim? Do you know how to squeeze out of your narrow place and into a more expansive place? Passover is just a week away…Use the energy of the holiday to help you create your own miracle of liberation. I’ll be liberating myself, praying for miracles while walking, step by step, into the water, my faith helping bring those miracles into my life. I hope you will be doing the same.