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).
“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.
For the last couple of months, two ladies who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have been stopping by our house every third week or so. They are very aware of my status as a Jew because the posts by my front door make it clear where I land on matters of the spirit.
While I am firmly rooted in my “religion” (I put that word in quotes because Judaism is so much more to me than just a religious practice), I also believe in being kind.
My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room,ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading “Waiting”→
Note: As part of my conversion process, my rabbi requires that I write my religious autobiography, which is made up of a series of essays. I’m posting these essays here, as well, to share my journey. I’m nearing the end of this process and will soon meet the beit din (rabbinical court) who will decide my Jewish “fate.” If my request for conversion is approved, I’ll then enter the mikveh and, when I emerge, I do so as a Jew.
Here is my first essay in the series, which is all about what compelled me to make this decision.
When starting out on my faith journey in my early twenties, I carried with me the God of my youth. This God was one that, if my prayers were sincere enough, my heart true enough, and my deeds good enough, would grant whatever it was that I wanted. If my prayers weren’t answered, it was because I had sinned or had fallen short of God’s plan for me. God was like a magical ATM in the sky, dispensing money, happiness, and an occasional new car to those that were worthy and devout.