If only you could see yourself the way I see you.
A friend of mine approached me and bluntly asked how it’s possible for me to love and care for all the women in my life. She said, “Come on, Eve, be honest—you can level with me. It just can’t be possible that you appreciate everyone and only see the good in them! You have so so many relationships. Don’t you find some of the women in your life to be difficult or annoying? You travel with them for days at a time; they can drive you crazy! I’ve seen it with my own eyes! Do your women ever get on your nerves?” I laughed at her question, but she was still waiting for an answer.
I explained to her that with all honesty, I see and experience my women in a different light than most people do (even the people closest to them). I see these women at the moments when they really shine. I see them inspired and with an openness of the heart and a refreshing newness of the mind. I see them in all their true beauty, with their souls far outshining the glamour and glitter of the body. I observe women touching the Wall for the first time, letting their tears fall without even a second of a thought of holding them back. I see women reconnecting to something that they always felt but never understood. I see their minds working overtime, as they welcome their newfound clarity, having their unique “aha” moments of truth. I get to experience women in a place of pure, raw, undiluted joy. I get to see real authenticity at its finest. It is beautiful. And it is impossible not to love what you see when it is that real. The ‘pintele yid’ shines through, and it is breathtaking to observe.
I often wish women would see themselves the way I see them. Radiant, strong, holy, connected, brave, glowing, a unique ‘tzelem Elokim’—an individual made by G-d in His divine image. It is breathtaking to be a part of these women’s lives, and to be privy to be with them at the moments when their soul is so connected to its Source.
This is the truth. The love I have for each of my women is mixed with tremendous awe and respect. One of my favorite parts of my communal work is taking my women to immerse in the waters of the mikvah. Usually this marks a very joyous time of renewal in the woman’s life. The women allow me in to attend them and to be a part of their mitzvah.
But we women, we are so hard on ourselves. We are always putting ourselves down. That voice in our head tells us that we should be doing more, that we are failing on so many fronts, and that we are simply not enough…
When we look at our reflection, we often (unfortunately) see what we don’t like about ourselves. Glaring back at us are our flaws, our wrinkles, our excess weight, and our many shortcomings. We can be so critical and unforgiving of ourselves—harsher then we’d be on anyone else.
My wise friend, Gevura, who is a mikvah educator for Mikvah USA, taught me a beautiful lesson from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. The Hebrew word for water is mayim, and it is composed of two words: ‘mah em’, which means ‘what if’.
WHAT IF we saw ourselves in a different light? What if instead of seeing our situation through despair, we saw it through hope? What if we saw our true potential, our power, and all the amazing things that we are and could be?
Every time a woman goes to the mikvah and stands in front of her reflection in the water, she should ask herself, ‘WHAT IF?’
WHAT IF she saw herself the way G-d sees her? He created her with love, and sustains her each day with love, because she is worthy. She is enough!
Imagine if we held on to that kavanah, that beautiful intention, as we faced our reflection every day of our lives.
The possibilities would be endless.