Ozi v’zimrat yah, vayahi li lishuah.

Ozi v’zimrat yah, vayahi li lishuah.

My Strength (balanced) with the Song of God will be my salvation (Psalm 118:14, Exodus 15:2).

“In this practice I find and express my strength, my will, my effort and desire when I chant ‘Ozi’. When I chant ‘v’zimrat yah’, I open and surrender to the (God)-song and let it be sung through me. Then in the last phrase, ‘vayahi li lishuah’, I balance those two aspects of my practice.” - Alia Meira

I interpreted this reading to say that we take our strengths, we recognize them, and we embody them. We let them sing through us. We don’t push down these strengths, yet we use them to find balance in our lives.

On a personal and a bit of a vulnerable note, I’ll share what some of my strengths are with you. But before I share them with you, I want to preface this by saying - I used to think of these qualities as weaknesses.

Have you heard of the StrengthsFinder test? Basically, it’s this Gallup test that asks super random questions that you have to answer with your first instinct, in a timely manner. And it uses this crazy algorithm to take the timing of your responses, along with your response choice, to find your “greatest strengths”. It sounds ridiculous. But in some weird way, it works. If you’ve never taken it, PLEASE look it up. It’s worth it.

When I started at UF, I was a music major. All of my friends were studying business, or engineering, or biology, or political science - and they all spent so much time in the library. When I was with my friends, I began to have this feeling of being… “less than” them. I told myself that I wasn’t as smart as them, that I couldn’t keep up in conversation about all of the “controversial” and “successful” things that they were talking about (the environment, politics, current events and issues in general). I thought to myself, “I’ll never be as successful as them.”

They had all taken this StrengthsFinder test, and all happened to have very similar results - “analytical”, “achiever”, “strategic”, “futuristic”. They encouraged me to take the test as well. But when I took the StrengthsFinder test, I was at first upset with my results. Because they all seemed so mushy gushy - not a single one of my strengths was about success, or input, or competition, or drive - as all of my friends’ strengths were.

Here were my results:

1. Belief

2. Developer

3. Empathy

4. Positivity

5. Adaptability

This list seemed pointless to me. How could I ever have a successful future with strengths like this? How could I ever keep up with what my peers were doing, what they were accomplishing? They were all going to have successful futures…and mine would be nothing like that. But I eventually took a step back and, through a lot of self-reflection and careful thought, I came to the realization that I could, and would, have a successful future - but in a different way.

You see, my strengths are all about emotion. They’re about understanding and connection. I’m not going to deny it - there are days when I wish I didn’t feel so much. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I wish I could just brush off these emotions and move past them. But in these moments, I remind myself that if I didn’t feel these emotions so deeply, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

I wouldn’t recognize how much these emotions mean to other people. I am the way that I am because of my emotion, and that in itself makes me strong. My emotions help me to build relationships and they help me to see the beauty in the little things. They make me sensitive to others in a very deep way. Because I recognize sadness and joy and anger and frustration and celebration - I am able to connect with people in a meaningful way. I am able to coach them and guide them through difficult times in their lives, and I am able to be their greatest cheerleader through happy times in their lives.

After I took the StrenghtsFinder test, I ended up changing my major. I’m now studying psychology and have plans to pursue a Doctorate in the field because I want to use my strengths to one day help others as a life-long career.

I now let myself feel, and be vulnerable, and be sad and happy and goofy and serious all at the same time. I use this to my advantage and I let my emotion, my strength, sing through me and shine onto other people.

When you think of your strengths, or even what you think may be your weaknesses, don’t push them down. You have to embody them and let them shine through you. These attributes are unique and special to you and they make you who you are.

And don’t be afraid to embrace and accept what you consider your “weaknesses” because, for all you know, they may actually become your most significant and valuable strengths.

Ozi v’zimrat yah, vayahi li lishuah.

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