Stages of Life

Choosing Calm Over Chaos

A few years ago, we were on a trip with another family. Their teens were taking surf lessons with an instructor and, my eldest son, David, asked to join. He was only 11 years old at the time and my husband, Michael, didn’t love the idea, because David wasn’t the strongest swimmer. To add to that, David is also an Aquarius, and in true Aquarian form, overestimated his skill level. But we looked out the window and the waves were calm. Plus, he was going to be with an instructor the whole time, so we let him go.

An hour later, I happened to glance out the window and the waves were not calm. We went down to the beach, which was a 20 minute drive away, to check on David. When we arrived the instructor said he hadn’t seen him for quite a while. A quick glance up and down the sand did nothing to calm our concern. Panicked, Michael ran up and down the beach calling out David’s name. I, on the other hand, started laughing.

Yes, it’s true. While my husband ran up and down the shore hollering like a wild man, I slapped both hands on my knees and laughed hysterically. I know it sounds insensitive. I tried to run after him to help look for David, but I was laughing too hard to get very far.

I laughed and laughed, not out of disrespect for Michael’s experience or because I didn’t see the potential risk of the situation. As Michael retells the story today, nearly eight years later, he sees that I laughed because my soul has a level of certainty that just doesn’t allow me to become panicked. So, when these moments arise, I laugh. Naturally. And without any ability to stop myself.

My mentor and teacher, Rav Berg, taught that chaos is a choice. This, of course, does not mean we shouldn’t feel the frustration of struggle or the pain of loss. We are, after all, human. Certainty is not the same as apathy. The goal is to have so strong a certainty in the Creator’s plan that we can accept the most challenging situations with unflinching calm. In each moment, we have a choice: indulge in the chaos or embrace the lesson. When we have certainty, we can see the spiritual growth that awaits us on the other side of discomfort. 

The thing about certainty is we must keep returning to it. Once we establish a whole-hearted faith in the Light of the Creator, we have to work to keep it alive. Having certainty doesn’t mean we have accepted an invitation to float through life worry-free. To be sure, we will continue to encounter strife. And when we do, we get to have all the feelings. We can even say, “I don’t like this, not one bit.” However, we can also continue to move forward knowing everything is precisely as it should be. Life will keep throwing new challenges our way. The questions we need to remember to ask are what am I meant to learn from this difficulty? What is the Creator trying to tell me? What is the opportunity here?

“The only remaining aspect of our spiritual work is to create certainty,” said Rav Berg, “to create an environment where we can remember that it is our consciousness that is in control!” David was a little too far out over from where he had started. He was having the time of his life and had zero knowledge of what we had experienced. As parents, the intensity with which we love our children opens us up to numerous “freak out” moments a day. Certainty helps quell irrational worry and gives us clarity when life offers us chaos. It gives us freedom from fear so we can stay open to the lessons we are meant to learn. There is a larger plan in the works – one that may not align with our own. Trust that the process is the purpose. 

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