A Declaration of Faith

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I was thinking today about how there is very little I've hidden from you and even less I've lied about, which makes what I'm about to share, all the more scary and raw for me. (No I'm not pregnant, just to quell that anticipation.)

Since this past February, I have attended Temple (Jewish temple, that is) with Slappy nearly every Friday.

And I love it.

I cannot tell you how at peace I feel there. I cannot tell you how what I hear, and speak and see on the lines of books we use to pray each week has changed me. I have never felt closer to my faith, to God, than I do there. I have never believed what I have heard, spoken and seen more than I do at Temple.

And through these nearly 5 months I feel as though Slappy and I have grown together, and I feel very strongly, that this is the religious community I want to raise my children in.

I realize that this is a shock to some of you, that it is not such a shock to others, but it is a shock to even me how greatly I am considering conversion. I understand the gravity of the change and I yearn for it. I have no doubt that I would thrive as a Jew, that my future family would grow and feel like they belong there, but it's just not that simple.

The family I have now, the one I've known for 26 years, will not know or believe any of this. They won't see that my faith is more important than my allegiance to a religion I was born into. They won't see that my happiness and my future family will be well taken care of in this new religion. They won't see it.

But what they will see, incorrectly, is Slappy as the source. Even though he never has, nor never will, ask me to convert (hell, he doesn't even know I'm writing this right now), in their minds, my conversion would be his fault. In reality, it's because I found the religious home I have been looking for. It's because I've found somewhere that I feel, for the first time ever, whole. But that won't mater to them.

Nothing has been set into motion and nothing will be for some time. But I'd be lying to you, either outright or by omission if I didn't tell you that I will, very likely, be undergoing a major chance (in my personal life, the blog will be pretty unaffected) in the coming weeks and months, maybe even years.

I don't expect all of you to understand and I don't expect any of you to agree with the possible decision on the horizon. But I hope you can respect it and offer support in this transition.

26 comments:

Lynn said...

I'm not sure what to even say. You might feel peace there but they don't have what you really need, your Savior. They deny the Lord who bought them! They deny the only Savior. When I pray for you, I pray to Jesus. Doesn't seem like you'd want those prayers anymore.

Psalms 121:1-4 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Prayer Bears
My email address

Jess said...

Lynn,

Jesus was Jewish. Keep that in mind. Anyways....

Katie, I say go for it. If you feel at peace within the temple, then I say you have found your spiritual home. If your family doesn't believe that, then show them this post. Your sincerity rings from every sentence.

I too am seeking faith. I haven't found it yet because I'm of the more logical mind (damned Spock syndrome...hey Leonard Nimoy is a Jew, too!) and want hardcore, irrefutable proof. I know that will never happen, but I know I will never be at peace, either. It sucks, but I applaud anyone who can find that peace for themselves.

You go, girl.

Kaye said...

I am a firm believer that spirituality is a very personal thing and that everyone must find their own path. No one else can, or should presume to know what you need to achieve spiritual fulfillment, peace, serenity...however you want to label it.

My beliefs differ greatly from my famaly's and we don't talk about it much. But, we live and let live.

I applaud you for being open to something different from what you were raised with, whether you choose to convert or not. Whatever you choose to do, I would support it 100%. I don't know how much that means to you since you don't know me from Annabelle. :) But still...

jojo said...

I am not surprised that you have found peace there. My son married a lovely jewish woman just this last Friday and had a Jewish ceremony...it was lovely...it was family, and something I have never felt before. I am so happy for him and for the love and peace he has found. He had been searching for his religious home for a long time and he has far to go but he is on a journey now. Best wishes to you Katy.

robin said...

There may be many rivers on the god/religion/spirituality path, but it's all water. At least, that's a worldview that makes sense to me.

So, if you've found a river you'd like to float in for awhile (or indefinitely), grab an innertube and hang on.

(I hope I didn't just beat the metaphor to death with a stick. It's the thought that counts, ok?)

Carleen said...

I've been down this road, too, especially where the family is concerned. Although I read and studied for 3 years before converting, many of my family members blame my husband -- as if I didn't have a mind of my own and know how to use it!

I wish you the best on your journey and pray that your family will at least try to understand.

Becs said...

I wish you happiness and peace on your journey to faith. Having a spiritual home is essential, I believe.

I converted to Catholicism before I married. It was something I would have done, anyway, but it freaked out my fundamentalist family.

kim-d said...

It's been a long time since I've commented, Katie, but I just had to chime in on this one, to say...

I am so happy for you that you have found what you have been searching for, spiritually. I can just about imagine that it won't be so pleasant with your family of origin, but...well...it's "always gonna be somethin'" so it may as well be about "somethin'" that makes you happy! This is your life. You only get one go-around. I just think that with decisions like this, you are the only one who can say what is right for you. Everybody else is gonna believe what they're gonna believe, and you get to do the same!

Good for you, Katie!

Daisy Duke said...

You are an intelligent woman with a sound mind & the ability to make your own decisions. Remind your family of that if need be.

Every time you have talked to me about attending Temple you have sounded *very* happy about it.

Religion is a personal decision that each person makes. That is why many married individuals are a different religion then their spouse. It is why some people only marry someone of their same religion. It is why some people won't talk about it at all & others shout their beliefs from a mountaintop. If anyone wants to judge you for YOUR personal decision regarding religion, point them back to the whole "no judging" part of their personal beliefs.

I'm here for you, every step of the way. And of course if you go through conversion I will expect care packages of mundel bread (chocolate chip please) and matzo ball soup when I come to visit.

For my own personal anecdote: In college, I lived with four other women. I of course bring the "sterotypical WASP" card to the table, one was a very devout Catholic, two were practicing Kosher Jewish ladies, and one was raised by a Catholic & Jewish parents (she called herself a Cashjew as in cashew, all a little nutty) and we had a great time. We celebrated Easter & Yom Kippur and we had a Menorah and a Christmas tree. IT WAS AWESOME. There were Christmas cookies & potato latkes and it worked out just fine. This is my long way of telling you it will be fine - seek your own peace.

Carolyn said...

I am really happy that you have found a place that makes you feel whole and fulfilled. Some people search a lifetime and never find that.

Becs said...

That's awesome! I am Catholic and before I met my fiance I had really drifted from the Church. After meeting Josh (he is a GOOD Catholic) and having many discussions we started going to church together. I love going to mass with him. We feel so close during and afterward. We have discussed how we will raise our kids and go to church with them every Sunday. It is difficult to be a different religion than your significant other.

I think it speaks volumes when you say how you feel at peace when you go with Slappy. Listen to your heart. This is a huge decision to make and it won't make everyone happy but you have to do what's best for you and Slappy. Good for you for seeking out what you believe in instead of just going along with what you were raised to be. Good luck with your journey and remember that many people WILL support you no matter what.

Overflowing Brain said...

Lynn-

I'm sorry it disappoints you, I had thought it might.

All I can say is that I will never turn down prayers, regardless of who is saying them and who they're being said to. But if you're not comfortable giving them here anymore, then I guess that's a loss I'll learn to deal with.

Dysfunction Junction: said...

I feel the need to start this comment with an apology. I'm sorry, but I cannot hold my tongue (or fingers as it were).

Lynn: how dare you imply that there is only one correct spiritual path? To assume that she no longer wants your good thoughts (which are what prayers really are) because she's no longer in "agreement" with you. To imply that she is unworthy in some way because she doesn’t think the same way as you.

If Judaism is the path that she feels can do the most good in her life then I will welcome her with open arms. Let's not forget that one of the central tenets of the Jewish faith is the Mitzvah, which is in the simplest definition an act of human kindness.

One of the main reasons that I embrace my faith (that I was born into) is their inclusive nature. I have very little patience for those who proclaim that their "version" is the only correct one; and then feel as though it is their right to shame others if they do not agree.

K: Know that by your good nature and kindness that you are already a member of the crew. If in the future your journey should lead you another path know that I will support your exploration then as I do now.

Masie McGraw said...

Katie this is your choice and not one other person's.. I am a lurker but am de-lurking because I cannot help but tell you to go with your heart. Do not let other people who's minds are closed to any religion but their own sway what is in your heart.

We are all free to choose which religion we individually want to be a part of..

If people really love you they will support you and keep their comments to themselves.. Friends should be frinds no matter what religious choices you make.

stacey said...

Everyone should be allowed to chose what faith/spiritual path it is that they should be taking. My parents were born and raised Catholic and neither agreed with that path. They stopped going to church and allowed my sister and I to chose for ourselves. My dad and I have had lovely conversations in the past. We have studied other religions, including Native American, since we are Native American's. (hence my father growing up Catholic, on the reservation you had NO choice) You need to do what is good for you and you alone and no one should judge you for that.

RedVU9395 said...

I am not going to say a lot here even though some would say I am qualified to do so. I went to Divinity School, have a masters in theology and almost became a minister. Also, I have considered conversion and have been concerned that my family wouldn't understand. (My dad was a minister [officially within the church] for 10 years (1997-2008) unofficially all his life (his nickname was "little preacher'.) Enough about my background ...

God is everywhere and I am glad you have found peace it doesn't matter where you find it, embrace it and be true to yourself.

For others that are concerned that you are going down the wrong path. There is no wrong path to God. God is everywhere and in everything. It doesn't matter what religion/faith/believe system you are, just have a relationship with God, if that is what you choose. What is right for one, isn't always right for another. Be understanding of one's journey, we will end up in the same place, no matter how different our paths are.

Sue G said...

Dear Katie:

I had to smile when I read your update because what you described--the peace, the sense of being at home--is exactly what I experienced as a Jew who discovered Christ. Oh, it sent me into a tailspin, for sure, because I had very mixed emotions. As a Jew, I was not ready to give up the history, the traditions, the strong sense of connection with ages old truisms and wisdom. But I was craving something more, some sense of belonging, some feeling that said I had arrived home. For me, that was Christ.

Now, you sit in Temple and feel some of those same feelings and emotions. And you know you are at home, at peace, fulfilled and completed in an area of your heart that felt "hole-ly" rather than holy. I am happy for you to have found your peace, your way.

I know that it is written that Jesus is the only way to God, and that is most likely the biggest argument people will use to dissuade you. But, coming from a long line of Jews whom I loved, I have to believe that we serve a God who would welcome any heart that thirsts for Him, any soul that seeks Him. I figure He is God and He loves all His creation, so He will figure it out and find a way for all His children to reunite with Him and with each other.

I was tormented for years after being drawn to Christ--after accepting that He was/is the Messiah-- because I didn't want to stop being a Jew. I have learned that the difference between me and my orthodox aunt and uncle is that I didn't stop being a Jew...I just stopped waiting.

I like to believe that God interprets His words very differently than man does, allowing a more complete understanding of love and acceptance of His children. So I suspect when I pray to Jesus on your behalf, He smiles, He listens, and He acts.

Mazel tov.

adriana said...

I'm with RedVU - there is no wrong path to God.

I applaud you for looking at yourself and discovering the place that makes you most at peace - so many people do "what's expected of them" without question.

And I'm happy for you that you've found a place to feel close to God and nurture that relationship! I don't know you (other than reading your blog), but wanted to say way to go!

Whatever you end up deciding to do is an extremely personal choice, and I hope you'll ultimately get the support from your family that you deserve. And I hope that they can understand the distinction that your husband isn't the source or "to blame."

Anonymous said...

Katie,

This is your own choice. I am Jewish (born and raised my whole life). That doesn't mean that all my friends are Jewish because they are NOT. A true and caring friend and follower will support you in your decision. And just becasue you won't be praying to Jesus doesn't mean your followers; such as Lynn can't still pray for you to whomever she and her family worship. I know many who have coverted to and have raised their children Jewish even though the mother is not. I am glad you find peace in temple. I do as well! When my friend's son was injured I prayed and prayed for him and his family (a close friend of mine who has since passed). She didn't care who I prayed to. She just wanted us to pray for Billy. He didn't make it; he never woke up after the accident (he was 12 and this was 11 years ago-I miss he and his mom so very much). But Sharon didn't care who I prayed to; and where I went to pray. She just wanted me to pray.

Too be honest that was one of the reasons that I closed my CB site because it seemed that very few people understood that I was Jewish and the ones who did never came back.

Do what makes you happy in your heart and soul. It's your life; live it the way you want, worship the way you want.

Good luck to you and Dr. Slappy

JDinIL

Ness said...

Congratulations Katie!

Some people never find the faith life for them.

I was Methodist and through my daughter who I put in parochial school because I did not like the public school where we lived, I came to go to Mass and find the peace you have described, and thus our whole family converted to Catholicism when my daughter was in 8th grade.

God is nondenominational.

You follow you faith.

I'm so happy for you.

Luck o' the Irish said...

Yay you! May your journey continue on. That is all.

April said...

Thats so great to hear, I am not Jewish, but I do know it says in Jerimiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
So excited for you!

ssb said...

Lynn, the psalms are read in Temple, too.

Katie, I am so happy for you. I know how you've struggled with your faith the last few years and it makes me so glad to see you reconnecting with the Divine. I find it thoroughly understandable, too -- I enjoy the Temple services, too. I love the music, and the words of the prayers. It's beautiful, and there have been weeks recently where I found myself hoping we'd go on Friday night. Although, we haven't made it since you guys left. :(

I am a little sad, too. Even though you two had already decided to raise your children in one religion, it was a little bit of a security blanket to have another interfaith couple in our circle of friends. I will miss having that. There's also this tinge of envy -- I wish I could follow suit, on some level. Temple services are so lovely, and sometimes I get rolling into this place where I can almost convince myself I could convert. Then I think more about it and realize I can't, because I do still feel connected and committed to my church and our triune version of God. Ah well, it will be what it is.

I think one thing is clear for both of us -- being in an interfaith relationship has deepened our faith. In different ways, perhaps, but the net result is that we both feel closer to God. If there's any need of proof that God has blessed these unions, I think that is more than enough.

I look forward to being with you along this path as much as you'll be comfortable sharing. I hope you'll blog about it along the way. :)

Five Small Meals said...

I've thought about conversion myself, having attended Temple semi-regularly in college with a very good friend. I'm so glad you've found something that resonates with you. I agree with everyone else's comments -- there are no wrong answers or paths in this area. The Jewish faith is inclusive and welcoming and warm. It is nonjudgmental and ENCOURAGES you to use your intellect and question. At least in the Temple I attended, having a theological disagreement with the Rabbi was not a cardinal sin, as I have found it to be in Christianity.

And you know, I have several friends who believe in Jesus who are Jewish. I see what Lynn is saying, but I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. (But if you have chosen not to take that part of Christianity with you, I think that's totally fine, too.)

Kristen said...

Some people spend their ENTIRE lives trying to find peace and happiness with in themselves, and searching for a religion that works for them. Regardless of who/what/where you worship, what matters is that it works for you.

Worship in Temple, Church, under the moon... where ever makes YOU feel best. That's what's golden. Internal happiness.

Anne T. said...

When I married, lo these many years ago, I was Catholic and my husband Methodist. He had been a churchgoer as a child, but from the time he went to college he dropped that part of his life. For the first couple of years we meandered along, me going to church each week, him sometimes going as well. With my encouragement we occasionally went to the Methodist church. When we'd been married three years, we adopted our first child, through Catholic Charities, and she was baptized Catholic as an infant. We continued our pattern of randomly visiting churches, sometimes alone and sometimes together, but never got involved in anything besides weekly services. When she got to be about 3, though, and we were awaiting the arrival of our second adoptee, I told my husband that he had to be 'something'. I could explain to our children that we were Catholic and Dad was Methodist, but I couldn't explain that we were Catholic and Dad was nothing. I would be thrilled if he were to become an active Methodist, or get involved in the Catholic Church as a spouse. I just wasn't going to say that we three went to church each week, but Dad didn't.

After a year of inquiry classes and instruction, he became a Catholic. It was never a sure thing that he would complete the process; he had -- and still does-- difficulty with some of the Church's teachings. Fortunately at the time we had a bright and caring and thoughtful priest who led him through the process as I tried very hard to remain neutral and not pressure him. I would have been okay with it either way. My in-laws, whom I would call occasional Protestant churchgoers from the South, were mystified, I am sure, but to their credit they never said a word. I hope that they are glad that he has a strong faith and a spiritual home. When our daughter married, and when our son died, they sat through Catholic services. And though they don't go to church with us when we are visiting them or they are visiting us, there is never any tension about the fact that we will.

I hope your family will come to that same sort of acceptance of your decision. There are enough difficult issues in marriage without adding others. In any case, I am happy that you are content in the Lord, however you choose to worship him.