With a huge lump in my throat, I held back the tears the last time I watched my parents drift out of sight at Ben Gurion airport. Jewish guilt wouldn’t stop harassing me. “You should’ve been more appreciative. You could have been nicer, better.. Why were you so short with them when they were only trying to help you?”  I found myself lost in thoughts reviewing my failures and kicking myself for lost opportunity as I rehashed their visit.

“Stop it. Stop it! Stop obsessing,” I tell myself with eyes shut tight, as I shake my head from side to side trying to rid my brain of the thoughts that pain me. “Don’t beat yourself up,” I told myself. “They will be back for a month in September and you’ll have a fresh opportunity to be a better daughter.”

I refocused my energy and started to make a game plan. The next time they come, I will be kind, thoughtful and appreciative. I will make a concerted effort to get along with my siblings, since family cohesiveness is important to them. As their arrival draws near, I bump it up a notch. I listen to a couple of shiurim on “Kibud Av V’em.” I start buying things they like and making plans of how we will spend our time together that will hopefully strengthen our relationship.

The time will arrive soon and be gone just as quickly. Undoubtedly, I will fall short of my expectations. Battling human nature is indeed the fiercest of all battles. However, I’m sure my efforts will be noted by my parents who know me all too well. I’m certain they will appreciate my small offerings and love me regardless of my failures.

How brilliant you are, God. I get it now. Elul is exactly thus. A special month to spend with our Parent. One to make amends for sins against our Father and our “brothers and sisters”. Although God is always around, just like my parents, who are available by phone, email, WhatsApp, Skype, etc., this month is different. God set it aside to spend in ways we usually neglect due to our busy and often burdensome lives. He comes to us, so to speak, for this special month to devote to one another.

Abba, I know You’re here. I’m so sorry for at times being an ingrate and neglectful of my duties. I’m so grateful for everything. Thanks for getting me through the past year with so many gifts. Sometimes You snuck them in when I wasn’t looking but I am fully aware it was You who sent them. I have a heart full of love and a soul full of faith. I know I don’t deserve Your faith in me based on my track record, but I am trying. You know that. Please help me; help us when we stumble; don’t let us fall. Open our hearts, minds, souls to see and know truth and goodness. Bless us and help us through this journey You placed us in.