I left my parents church with a heavy heart 16 years ago. The heavy heart was not for the religion, but for the family I was leaving behind. I had stopped believing what they believed at least four years before that. However, I had not stopped being a spiritual person.
Over the years, I searched for that religious place I could call home. I researched and investigated multiple religions. I tried out different churches. I spent more time wandering from religion to religion than most people spend thinking about the beliefs they've held their entire lives. I knew I believed something. I just didn't know what.
I spent an entire year attending a Buddhist temple in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I loved it there. If I had not had two young children and a husband who was deployed, I would have continued to attend. To this day, whenever I am in town, I have a strong desire to attend services. Unfortunately, I think my mother might have a heart attack if I did. So, I have restrained that desire.
Five years ago, I finally took the time to start studying a religion that I had been curious about for as long as I can remember- Judaism. After reading a couple books, I realized that I had found the religion for which I had been searching. Sadly, I have major social anxieties, which include using a telephone, so I put off my conversion for another two years.
Finally, after we moved to Kentucky, I decided to pursue my conversion. I found a synagogue. I began to meet with the rabbi there, and attend services. It felt like I had come home- to the religion that is. The synagogue was not a good fit. It was hard for me to complete my conversion when I knew it would be one more thing that I did not share with my husband. Gary is gone so much that I didn't want anything else in my life that I could not share with him. So, I struggled with my decision to convert. Then, Gary deployed. It was hard to make it to the conversion classes. After three months, I decided to stop pursuing my conversion.
I still believe. This is who I am. In my heart, I am a Jew. In reality, I am just a person in limbo. I read books about Judaism. I study. I celebrate Jewish holidays. I mourn on Yom Kippur. But, I continue along this path. Perhaps someday, I will complete my conversion. In the meantime, I am happy with my decision. It was the right thing at that time. Some day, what is right may change.
8-8-2013 Edited to add: What is right for me has changed, but not in the way I thought it would. My searching continued, and I have come to a place in my life that no longer requires religion. I still celebrate the major Jewish holidays, but only in my heart, and not for religious reasons, but for love of tradition, the same reason I still celebrate Christmas.