Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Musings of an Almost-Convert Part 1

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. 

4 comments:

The Mom with Brownies said...

What religion did you practice growing up? As you may know, I've been on a journey too. It's not an easy road. I hope you find complete peace in God's timing. :o)

Misti C said...

Maybe you should share what you learn with the rest of us. Here's my reasoning... there are some shared areas between Judaism and Christianity. It wouldn't hurt those of us who are Christian to understand a little more the traditions, customs and beliefs of Judaism. After all, the early Christian church used the Jewish scriptures to bring the message of the gospel to people, and then wrote the New Testament. Even Jesus started from the Jewish scripture in his teachings. I can't help but wonder if, while you're headed down this road, you get a better grasp of what the gospel message is all about. Just my two cents worth... :-)

Kristina said...

Shelley,

I grew up in an evangelical church. I found it quite humorous that you were one of the few bloggers I started out reading that wasn't Catholic, and now you're converting. I'm glad that you've found your place and I have really enjoyed watching your journey.

Kristina said...

Misti-

I will definitely continue this series. I have made some very interesting observations that I'm sure you'll enjoy. :)

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