The Way Life Works

Muir Woods Family

We are familiar with the Torah of Moses, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, but what about the Torah of Yahweh?

Let’s start with Yahweh.  Yahweh is the personal name of God.  When Moses experienced God in the burning bush and asked God’s name, God replied “I 
am who I am. Or I will be who I will be,” meaning “that which causes to be” or “my nature will become evident from my actions” (Jewish Study Bible Footnotes Exodus 3:14). This is Yahweh. I am. Yahweh, God, is the verb “to be”. This is a different way of looking at the world – God revealed through the reality of how things are, how things really work. When I think of God as “I am”, I can look at a situation with curiosity and ask questions to understand what is real about what’s happening so that I can pay attention to how God is revealed in the midst of the situation.

Torah can be understood as the lawfulness of something – how it works.  So, one way of looking at the concept of the torah of Yahweh is the lawfulness of reality – how life works.

When I begin to pay attention to how life really works rather than focusing on how I want life to work:

  • I recognize that my kids have to develop their own relationships with each other and I can’t make them get along.
  • I understand that I can’t control what my child thinks or feels or wants, but I can create a safe environment within which my child can gain a better understanding of what he/she thinks and feels and wants and learn how to express those desires in a respectful, considerate way.
  • I realize that I can’t make my adult sibling call me on a regular basis, but I can pick up the phone and call him/her.
  • I grieve with my aging parents over the losses they are suffering as together we work through solutions instead of dismissing their loss as I make arrangements and solve problems for them.

We can ignore the way life really works and continue to react to the way we think life should work, but that can get a little frustrating over time.  I might think that I should be able to walk onto a tennis court and play without stretching first (like I could when I was 16) without getting injured, but that’s not how life really works in my 40’s.  I might want to run to Target with my two year-old when he/she is tired, but I shouldn’t be surprised if the outing involves a complete meltdown, because that’s what happens when we get tired.  I might even think that my dad should willingly give up the keys and move into a safer environment like an assisted living facility, but that will be frustrating for both of us if he doesn’t participate in the decision-making and maintain as much independence as possible in the process.

When we start paying attention to how life really works and look for God’s compassion and love in that reality, then our solutions can become more collaborative and more creative

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