Wednesday, / August 5, 2020

Managing the stress of uncertainty

“And he became her son…”

Chabad shluchim tell us how the individual challenges they’ve navigated in their personal lives have inured them to the stress of uncertainty and self-isolation. 

When Chavie and I were married, we assumed that pregnancy and birthing babies would come as naturally to us as it had to our parents. But life didn’t deliver our expectations. We were heartbroken. 

We entered the world of adoption. And there, we discovered the meaning of uncertainty. Raising children is always a fraught undertaking. Who knows what they will be like as grown-ups, and whether they will reflect the love and the investment we make in nurturing them? These questions loom especially large when you are raising adopted children. 

And now, uncertainty has rattled the entire world. When will this pandemic end? When will it be safe to socialize? Will things ever go back to normal? Who knows?

But the uncertainty doesn’t keep us from giving each of the five children we’ve adopted a loving childhood. It doesn’t weaken our determination to create and nurture a wholesome family. 

Our children will sometimes say things that break our hearts and remind us that we can’t be certain they will reciprocate our love. We ride the highs and lows, and through the lowest lows, five words in the book of Exodus sustain me. “When the child grew older, she brought him to [Batya] Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses.”

Batya knows that this child that she pulled out of the water will never, biologically, be hers. She knows that he will always be connected to the Hebrews, that his biological parents have chosen other names for him. She could not be certain that he will ever find his comfort zone in the palace of her father, King Pharaoh. 

But she looked past the uncertainties, and with a profound capacity for love and wisdom, she responded to his cry and demonstrated that being a parent isn’t just about pregnancy and birthing. It is about transcending the bonds of blood and kin by loving selflessly. And that is why, says the Midrash, “G-d said to Moshe, ‘Although you have many names, I will only call you by the name that Batya called you: Moses.’”

Chavie and I don’t obsess over the uncertainties. Instead, we focus on everything we can control and move forward with hope. 

Chaim Bruk is rabbi and co-CEO of Chabad Lubavitch of Montana, father of five adopted children and a lover of Torah. He also enjoys sushi and the great outdoors.

Comment 1
  • Debbie Kreindler

    I always enjoy reading your wise, interesting and loving essays. Your words always seem to be like a pep rally for my emotions and actions.You are an inspiration to me, our community and probably the solar system.

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