The Jewish holiday of Passover commemorates the redemption of a band of Hebrew slaves from extended, torturous Egyptian bondage. We sit around a bedecked table as kings and queens, as we recall our ancestors' transition from servants to freedmen and celebrate their glorious fate on that special date some 3,300 years ago.
However, the holiday is not intended to simply be a historic commemoration of a bygone era. Instead, we are admonished to view the experience as if we, the present edition of the ancient nation, are personally leaving a land of oppression for a new life.
In effect, the Hebrews at that time experienced a sudden transformation from a state of perceived rejection (Is God ever going to take us out of here? Did He leave us here to rot as slaves forever?) to one of miraculous redemption, complete with supernatural miracles and newfound glory. If we are to take a stab at replicating that ancient experience we may wish to spend some time considering our own transitions from rejection to redemption.
We have all tasted the bitter pill of rejection. There was the time that we were not selected for the school performance or failed to make the basketball team. We know what it's like to be kept out of select social cliques or told "no" by the person with whom we sought a relationship. Not every school that we applied to accepted us; nor did every would-be employer. Perhaps we even had the misfortune of being rejected by an employer, or worse, a spouse or family member.
Rejection is one of the worst feelings that a person can experience. When we are rejected we feel unwanted, unloved and perhaps inadequate. These emotions and thoughts cut at our very essence, leaving us with questions about our true worth and capabilities. We fear moving forward (who is to say that we won't be treated similarly in the future?) and tend to hunker down in some form of anger-driven self-pity, blaming others, circumstances, and the like for our misfortune.
Passover teaches us that the best way forward is to not get pulled down by past troubles. If there is something to learn from the experience (and there always is) then by all means do so. But we cannot achieve, let alone thrive, if we are to spend all of our time and energies thinking about what could have been or who did us wrong. We must be able to be forward thinkers, using every new experience and opportunity as path to move forward and grow.
I would be the last to suggest that such a mental transformation is simple. The Bible underscores this by sharing that the Hebrew nation repeatedly demonstrated their "slave mentality" after they had left their land of bondage. Time and again they pined for a return to oppressive Egypt rather than endure the new challenges that they faced in the Sinai desert. Moses had to continually remind his nation of God's love and munificence in order to move them forward.
Still, what kind of life do we live when we are filled with bitter resentment and refuse to move forward and embrace new opportunities?
In order to emerge healthy and whole from a challenging experience, one in which we felt hurt, unappreciated and perhaps even hated, we need to study the causes. Assuming that we really had anything to do with the rejection in the first place, what could we have done differently? What can we do in the future to experience better, more positive outcomes? But sometimes the outcome really had nothing to do with us, or was simply a matter of timing or need. Some of the world's most accomplished and capable people were rejected for the pettiest of reasons, before (and perhaps even after) the greatness was made known.
To be free is more than a physical state; it is a mindset first and foremost. We cannot necessarily choose what others' reactions and decisions will be but we can choose our behaviors and our responses. At this time of freedom, the best choice is the one that only you can make, which is a choice to live your life to the fullest, in perpetual growth mode.