I’ve been in painful health sojourn lately, and while it physically broke me, my cries to God were heard. Not in the way I hoped, but we don’t always get the answers to the questions we ask….
Backstory first, of course: I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, an auto-immune disorder, in January 2015. In the subsequent 7+ years, I have only been in a brief remission once, have damage in dozens (or even hundreds of joints), have failed off every medicine available out there, and have had my diagnosis changed to the following: Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Pseudo-RA, and Pseudo-Gout (only with calcium crystals instead of uric acid).
Sitting in my inbox is a link that, once clicked, will take me to the documents to sign an offer on a house. It’s been sitting there since last night, and I’ve opened it a few times, but I just can’t click the buttons to start signing. And it’s breaking my heart!
“The old familiar story told in different ways; Make the most of your own journey from the cradle to the grave;Dream your dreams tomorrow because today, life must go on
But there’s more to this life than living and dying, more than just trying to make it through the day;more to this life, more than these eyes alone can see, and there’s more than this life alone can be.”
The above lyrics are from Steven Curtis Chapman’s “More to This Life,” the title track to his 1989 album.
I discovered this song probably sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. I was heavily into contemporary Christian music then, and this song resonated with me. It remained in my top five favorite songs right up until I walked away from Christianity (and its music) more than five years ago.
I frequently refer to myself as a BEC (bitter ex-Christian), but I’m finding that this definition of myself is starting to change. I’ve now put enough time and space between my current faith and my former one to gain some perspective, and I’ve found myself assessing the lessons I learned over the decades I spent practicing the various forms of Christianity. I’ve learned lessons, some good and some bad, and I thought I’d share some of them here. I’m starting chronologically from my earliest participation until my last, and the approximate dates of where I was involved is included for context. I’ve also included links to places and people because, well, it was fun to walk down memory lane as I wrote this.
I’m not going to lie – this Christmas season was hellish for me. For one, I obviously don’t celebrate the holiday and when it’s shoved down my throat everywhere, I get irritated. Anyone who says there’s a “war on Christmas” and that people don’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore has never been a Jew in December. I used to respond with, “Thanks, I don’t celebrate it,” but now I just smile, nod, and walk away. It’s not my holiday, it’s not something I believe in, but I know people are just trying to be kind and spread holiday cheer so I move on. It’s not a battle I feel like fighting.
But mostly, this season was horrendous because I used to celebrate Christmas and so many of my childhood memories are wrapped up in the holiday. Now, when I think about those memories, I think of my father and my younger brother and the spike of pain that stabs me through the heart is almost unbearable. At every turn, I’m reminded of loss this time of year. It makes for dark times during a dark period on the calendar (at least in the Pacific Northwest!)Continue reading “On grief and Jewishness during the holiday season”→