Yesterday, March 23, 2016 was the Jewish holiday of Purim. For those who are unaware, Purim is the commemoration of the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. At the time, the Jewish people were exiled in Persia, and were not masters of their own fate. Esther was singled out by the King of Persia to become one of his wives, much to her dismay. But the king truly admired Esther, so when her uncle Mordechai discovered Haman’s plot, he urged her to speak up for her people, even though it put her welfare at risk.
Long story short, she did, the king put an end to Haman and his plot, and the people were saved.
Zoe and Parker attended a Jewish preschool, so we observed Purim every year we were there. I hadn’t heard of it prior, despite growing up in the Christian church, where I knew of the story of Queen Esther.
Purim in the Jewish community is akin to Halloween. Every year there was a carnival, where kids dressed up in costumes, played games and ate treats, such as hamantaschen ( a pastry). During the week leading up to the carnival, the kids also wore costumes and took treats to the neighboring Christian preschool.
One year, the year “Enchanted” came out, Zoe insisted on the wedding dress from the Disney Store.
It should be mentioned that at this same time, Zoe was in looooove with an older boy named Sammy from the preschool. She was 4, he was 5. She had decided she was going to marry him, whether he liked it or not.
He looks thrilled, doesn’t he?
While any costumes were acceptable, most of the girls preferred to dress up like Queen Esther.
The year before the wedding dress.
Zoe and all of the Esthers. (And one Alice in Wonderland)
That phrase “for such a time as this” has echoed through my mind often over the past several years. Recently the echo has become louder and more frequent.
This is a troubling call for a person like me. It’s a call to be brave. It’s a call to stand up for what’s right in spite of the inherent risk. It’s the prompting towards a life of purposeful resistance rather than silent acquiescence.
While I like to think of myself as one who rises to the challenge, many times in my life I have balked at the road less traveled. I have opted for comfort rather than controversy and harmony over conflict.
I can’t count the number of times I have stood on a precipice and wavered.
My m.o. is to keep expectations low, lest someone (typically myself) be disappointed when I fail to meet them.
I’m the person who has 3/4 of a college education for fear of what might be required of me if I ever finished.
When I went to summer camp back in elementary school I was required to take a swim test to participate in the majority of water activities. The swim test was simple- swim the length of the pool and back, and then tread water for 3 minutes.
I started at the shallow end, swam to the opposite side and back. I began treading water in what probably was no more than 3 feet. One minute prior to completing the test, I told the test monitor that I was quitting.
She said, “You can’t quit! You’re only a minute from being done! You can do this!”
“I can’t.” I said. I climbed up the ladder and out of the pool.
The truth is, I was terrified; Terrified of what might be expected of me and if I was up to the challenge. Terrified of making a fool of myself, I chose the safer option. I sat in a canoe with the other “non-swimmers” in our life vests, watching the majority of campers doing all sorts of fun activities. I was embarrassed and ashamed. But I was “safe.”
As some of you might have read in my blog Facebook post the other day, Zoe was walking behind one of her fellow 6th graders and his 8th grade friends when the 8th graders began bad-mouthing and making fun of another boy in her class. Her friend calmly replied, “Did you know he’s a foster kid? Do you know what he’s been through? Did you know that he lives with a girl at our school and if her family hadn’t let him stay with them he’d be homeless right now? That he has no family? He’s goofy, but he’s not special needs. He’s my friend and it’s not okay to talk about people like that.”
It takes a certainty of identity to live that kind of courage.
We all are provided multiple opportunities each day to be the person we were created to be, to live the life God intended for us, whether it be in our career choices, our hobbies, our passions, our family life, our friendships, our romantic life, our spiritual life.
My friend Yolanda said to me today, ” I do not want to waste one more day not living in the identity God has intended for me.”
I don’t believe in happenstance or coincidence. I believe we each have been put in position “for such a time as this.” For each of us, the “this” is something different.
Currently our country is in political upheaval, we are a divided people, in a world filled with fear and violence. If we allow it, there is much to fill us with great insecurity.
However-“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7)
The tools are right in front of us. The Power Source is waiting for us to put in our plug. The Source of all love wants to lavish it upon us so that we can then in turn lavish it on those around us. The Spirit longs to free us from all sorts of bondage by enabling us to exercise self-discipline.
Whenever we face a challenge, both internal struggles and external circumstances, our best hope is to remember that it’s no accident we are there, and we have the ability to effect change in “such a time as this.” Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous. You never know whose life you might save. Maybe even your own.