One of the most important things I have learned as I have become more observant is the understanding that my will is not the be-all and end-all. Hashem's (Hashem= a common Hebrew word for G-d) will is the true goal. I am not very good about passing that test- choosing what Hashem wants over what I want, but little by little I think my choice box (the part of you where true, difficult decisions lie-- some things are above your choice box, some things are below) is elevating. Not eating pork used to be above my choice box, but for the past 6-8 months, I've done pretty well. Not perfect, but that's not the point. He wants me to make the effort, even when I fail sometimes. The key is to keep trying, keep moving forward, keep making the effort, keep not giving up. Sometimes it's difficult to decide the next step- it all seems so overwhelming at times, but I have to take a moment, realize that it's not an all-or-nothing deal, and that it's both the sincere attempt and the fact that I am taking steps at all that is important.
I think that's one of the biggest fundamental differences between orthodox Judaism and other branches- the belief that Hashem's will is over our will. Growing up, I always learned that we looked critically at the Torah and all its writings, to see if a particular practice or belief resonated, seemed applicable to us in the current day. If it did, we followed it, if it didn't, we didn't. Our will superseded. Without the belief that our will comes second, there's no reason to grow toward a Torah life. Why would you do such difficult and sometimes weird things? Why would you not eat milk and meat together? Why would you not wear clothes that mix linen and wool (I'm not kidding, that actually is a commandment)? It would make no sense- and as I said earlier, that is usually the deciding factor.
Such a difference to believe that Hashem's will is over your own. To believe that the Torah really does have continual lessons to teach us, to this day. It's not a dry, linear history book, rather a spiral that comes back to itself year after year, always slightly different. We are different from year to year, and what we take from the writings speaks to us where we are. When I thought I knew better, I missed a lot of those lessons. I am continually amazed how everything is contained in the Torah- it's not a history lesson to me anymore. The more I study and learn, the more is revealed to me. The more that is revealed, the more courage I have to do the things that are difficult, because I know I am doing what Hashem wants, and that will bring blessings to me and my family.