February 22, 2020

Some Thoughts on Trusting HaShem

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As a millennial Orthodox Jewish female writer living in Los Angeles, I often have struggles with money. My generation earns less money than our baby boomer parents did at our age (adjusted for inflation). It’s expensive to be Orthodox. Women earn less than men. Writing is not a lucrative career, and Los Angeles is unaffordable.  

Since moving to L.A., my husband, Daniel, and I have had our share of financial struggles. It can seem impossible to get ahead here. When will we ever be able to afford a modest, $1.1 million home in Pico? How will we pay for our future children’s annual $20,000 day school tuition? Why is the electric bill $350 per month?

This financial pressure led me to become a workaholic. I thought that if I took on more jobs and worked harder, I would be OK. I worked more than 60 hours per week at one point. My only day off was Shabbat.  

I was heading for serious burnout, and I was only 29 years old. I knew I had to make a change, and quickly. But how would we survive? My husband and I were working as hard as we could. 

I knew I had to try a different tactic. I cut back on work and created space for myself throughout the day, whether that meant praying, going on walks with my dogs, saying Shema before bedtime, taking more time to bless my food, and going on dates with my husband. I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I constantly was running around, never having time for myself or time with HaShem. After all, the best ideas I’ve ever had came to me when I was in a calm and relaxed state.

I also decided to completely trust HaShem that my new plan of action would work. I wouldn’t be spending all my time making money, so it was a risky choice. But I had to try it. 

That was six months ago. Since then, my life has completely transformed. I no longer worry constantly about money or work. I am much more focused and mindful, and I feel centered instead of anxious. I have shifted my thinking from negative to positive.

It can be really difficult to trust that HaShem is going to protect you when you’re late paying the bills, you can’t pay your credit card debt and your income is stagnant. 

I used to see my friends buying houses and think, “When will it be our turn?” Now I think, “If it’s meant for us, it will happen.” I would get upset when I heard that people were completely supported by their parents and didn’t have to work. Then I realized that that was their journey; I was not born into the same circumstances. When I saw Facebook friends going on fancy vacations, I would get jealous and want the same for myself. Now I know that if I want to visit some fancy destination, I will save up for it and go there one day. 

I have discovered that disappointment comes when we set up unrealistic expectations for ourselves that we cannot fulfill. We begin to feel guilty and depressed that we can’t afford something or accomplish a goal — but it was simply not meant to be in the first place. 

Since I decided to stop worrying, we have received many blessings. My husband and I unexpectedly have gotten jobs and discovered answers to questions we had been pondering for years. It seems as if the universe has opened up for us, and things are going our way.

It can be really difficult to trust that HaShem is going to protect you when you’re late paying the bills, you can’t pay your credit card debt and your income is stagnant. I’ve been there, and I know how scary it is.  

What helped me was doing a metaphorical trust exercise where you fall backward. Stop worrying. Trust that things will be fine, and just let yourself go. I promise: HaShem will be there to catch you.

Kylie Ora Lobell is a Journal contributing writer.