My Personal Exodus

Jethro and Moses, as in Exodus 18, watercolor ...

 

The bishop of the national level of my church challenged everyone of my particular religious choice to engage in a Bible reading challenge. It involves reading a small, prescribed set of passages from the Bible each day during 2013. Not being one to shy away from a something that seems huge, I accepted the challenge. At first, it seemed like a simple reading of history or of the story of Jesus’s life, both of which I have heard many times for the last 45 years. I had no idea what I found — and I’m just barely into February!

 

I expected to find stories of good, hardworking people,our forebears, who braved hardship, slavery, plagues, famine, flood, drought, and persecution. Yes, those stories are indeed there. However, I also found stories of despicable acts, lewd behavior, lecherous relatives, murder, drunkenness, and pigheadedness. Gee, somehow I thought that all these people in the Bible were so staid and proper. I noticed one night, as I was reading a passage from Genesis aloud to my daughter, who was having trouble getting to sleep and wanted me to read to her, that the Bible is darn near R-rated in places.

 

I also found that the story is about me.

 

In Exodus, the basic story is that Moses led the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery to the promised land. It doesn’t seem possible in today’s world, but these people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years on foot. Today, we’d turn on the GPS and get from point A to B (avoiding warring sects as we go), and be at our destination in a tiny fraction of that time. These people who followed Moses didn’t do so meekly. They whined, complained, considered giving up on the journey, fussed, fought attackers, and dissed Moses’s leadership. Moses would tell God that the people were complaining again, and God would send water, manna, or some sign that they were on the right path.

 

We all want to think that we are like the hero of the story. I’d like to think that I’m a leader like Moses, or perhaps a wise woman like Maya Angelou, but the truth is that I am more like those Israelites. I whine, complain, beg for signs, get anxious, want to give up, fight off those who would belittle me, and try to provide for the people about whom I care. In Exodus, God’s signs were fairly obvious: tablets with the commandments, a column of fire or smoke, manna from heaven. Today’s symbols are far more subtle, and it takes contemplation to gain any level of understanding.

 

I also received an email from a subscription service that ties in with this theme. It says to forgive yourself for your perceived failures before you can grow. My journeys include not just the job search, but also weight loss and a new home for my little family. This week, I think my journey involves contemplating the difference between my expectations of where I should be and the reality of where I am. Self-forgiveness seems superficial until you engage in it — deeply, truly, down to your soul. For me, this involves forgiving myself multiple times each day until that forgiveness passes from my conscious mind through my subconscious to my soul.

 

This personal exodus is very humbling and incredibly humanizing. I wonder if it was the same for those people who followed Moses. Besides, what would manna taste like? Waffles?

 

 

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