Since my bas mitzvah, I have not kept shabbos properly even once.
Can you imagine? I spent 11 years of my life preparing to take the yoke of mitzvos on my shoulders. Of course, as a good Bais Yaakov girl, one of the most important things I learned during that time is the importance of keeping shabbos properly. I learned the lamed tes melachos really well- I even knew them by heart! I even had the prettiest hilchos shabbos notebook in my class!
All year, while I was 11, we received speeches about what was going to happen, how we were soon going to be responsible for our actions. Though some girls only fast the three fasts preceding their bas mitzvah, I was all enthusiastic and fasted all of them for an entire year.
And then, just a few days before my bas mitzvah, I was rushed to the hospital with a blood sugar level too high to be measured.
I left a few days later, not realizing that I'd already kept the last shabbos of my life.
It was ironic, how after a year of fasting on all fasts, even the really minor ones, I was suddenly left unable to fast, except on Yom Kippur. And years of learning hilchos shabbos culminated in a crash course on poking my finger and squeezing out blood-on shabbos.
I didn't want to do it:
Dr #1: (that's the doctor who diagnosed me. I'm on to number 6 now and seriously considering number 7.) you will need to check you blood sugar daily-on shabbos too.
SD: but you aren't allowed to do this stuff on shabbos! It's my bas mitzvah in a few days!
Dr: listen, I've had orthodox patients who had to take pork insulin in the days before they had synthetic insulin. And they had to, because it is life and death. And so is this. A patient on insulin can not go an entire shabbos without checking their blood sugar. It would be dangerous!
And so, I went home. I got into the routine of diabetes. Checking, injecting, screaming, (well, ok, that wasn't supposed to be part of my routine. But it was for the first few months.)
Then shabbos came. My father came home from shul, and I knew I needed to check my blood sugar so that my father could give me my insulin shot, (no he doesn't still give them to me!) but I couldn't. I just could not bring myself to turn on an electric machine on shabbos. Not just any shabbos. The first shabbos after my 12th birthday. But I did. I turned it on. I poked my finger. I squeezed out some blood. And then I started to cry.
It was so anticlimactic, so hard. I knew you shouldn't cry on shabbos, but I couldn't help it. I wanted so badly to keep shabbos.
The next time I checked, the same thing happened. I couldn't stop myself from crying.
The following week was pretty much the same. I was checking an crying and mourning my inability to keep shabbos properly.
That went on a few more weeks, but after a while, as the whole diabetes thing became so much more normal for me, so did checking on shabbos.
Sadly to say, it's been almost nine years, and I never think about it anymore. Sure I check with a shinuy, and I don't use the back light on my insulin pump, even if it means getting out of bed to go someplace with light, but I don't feel tza'ar over the chillul shabbos anymore. I just do it. And while, yes, I know it is the right thing to do, in fact, it is my mitzvah, I still don't think this complacency is a good thing.
And that got me thinking. How many mitzvos am I able to do that I don't think about? Yes, every time it's a fast day and I groan as my siblings complain that they are hungry, I tell them to appreciate the ability to fast. But when my mother asks me to come do the dishes, even though I'm tired and I am not in the mood, do I stop and think about how lucky I am to have two legs and two arms, all of them working, that I can do it with? Do I think about the girl I know in a wheel chair, and how much she would love the opportunity to do the dishes for her mother?
How many times have I grumbled that I need to wake up early to daven, but not thanked Hashem that I have eyes to see the letters in the siddur, unlike a girl I know who is blind and can't daven from a siddur?
Maybe giving Ma'aser is a drag, but do I stop to think how lucky I am to have a job? To be able to earn money, about all those people out there who have lost their jobs and can't provide for their families?
Sometimes in life, I need to turn around and stop thinking of why things are hard for me, but rather what the alternative is. Because most of the time these relative hardships are really just a demonstration of the good in my life. And if I can remember that, I will be a much happier person.