It's time to pour my heart out again with Shell at Things I Can't Say.
I was born and raised Jewish; however, I converted to Christianity as an adult.
Shortly after my conversion, Tim gave me a beautiful gold cross to wear on a necklace, which I promptly removed any time I was to be around my parents, out of fear that they would never understand my reasons.
When my friend Tori and I were in Vegas for an IVF cycle, my dad (who lived there at the time) picked us up at the airport and took us to breakfast.
And as luck would have it, it was the ONE time I forgot to take the necklace off.
As we were eating bagels and slurping down coffee, my dad glanced across the table at me. Something had caught his eye.
My eyes followed his eyes...he had noticed the cross on my necklace. I found myself nervously grasping at it, as it clung to my neck.
The look on Tori's face was classic, while I stumbled to find the right words. "Uh...I...uh, well, I kind of converted to Christianity. Didn't I tell you?"
My dad's eyes practically bugged out of their sockets and he exclaimed, "NO, you never told me! Why would you convert?"
Still completely tongue-tied, I said, "Are you sure I never told you?"
With his brow wrinkled and his eyes closed (a sure sign of anger), he said, "No, I most definitely would remember if you had told me that!!"
Trying to find my way out of what was sure to be a cumbersome discussion, I mumbled something about never feeling complete until I discovered Christianity and how he would probably never fully understand.
His eyes still closed, he answered, "You're right. I don't understand!"
Is this truly the conversation I wanted to have with my dad over stale bagels and cold coffee, while a good friend of mine sat next to me wondering how on earth I was going to explain this.
The look on Tori's face read, "Oh, this is gonna be good....so much better than Paradise Hotel", which is a show we were both obsessed with.
We'd spend the entire hour of the show calling each other back and forth with, "Can you believe that backstabbing bitch didn't get voted off?" and "Dude, you totally know that one couple is getting it on!" Real mature stuff but, hey, it was a welcome escape from the treacherous adventures of IVF.
"I just felt...", I began to explain. "It felt like a piece of me had been missing until I discovered Christianity. You and mom forced Judaism down my throat, giving me no choice to decide on my own what I was interested in."
He laughed, which seemed a little out of place, considering the seriousness of the topic.
Tori looked at me and silently mouthed, "Awkward".
Yeah, just a little.
My dad shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Okay. Whatever".
My friend seemed to be relieved, as I wiped a bit of sweat that had begun to bead up on my forehead. I knew my dad, though...and I knew he wasn't about to let this go without further discussion at a later time.
It wasn't until weeks later that my dad brought it up again over a phone conversation.
He said, "I don't understand how you can say we forced Judaism on you. Religion isn't a choice. Your mother and I simply exposed you to the religion you were born into."
"Well," I said. "You forced me to go to Hebrew School every week, services every Friday night, a Bat Mitzvah at 13 years old, confirmation at 15 years old...I felt like I didn't have a choice. It wasn't something enjoyable for me. I went through the motions to make you happy."
There was only silence on his end of the line. Had I gone too far? I very rarely talked to my father like this...so open, so vulnerable.
Finally, he said, "I guess I'll never understand it. But it's your life. Do what you want."
And that's how the conversation ended. We haven't discussed it since.
In the end, what was most important to me (and what I failed to convey to him) was my personal relationship with God.
Sure, I could've had a relationship with God while sitting in temple every Friday evening, while reciting prayers in Hebrew....just as easily as I could've had a relationship with Him, reading a bible in the comfort of my own bedroom.
However, it wasn't until discovering Christ that I felt whole again. I had been saved, literally.
It was almost as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders... a feeling which was so comfortable, peaceful and, most of all, not forced.
At some point, my father must have come to terms with it because he sends the kids gifts for Christmas, with no mention of Hanukkah. He no longer sends me cards wishing me a happy Rosh Hashanah or calls me to see how long I managed to fast on Yom Kippur before sneaking a cracker or two.
A small part of me is sad about that. Sad, only because I feel like it's a disappointment to him. It's one less thing that connects my father and me, as we don't have a strong bond as it is.
However, I have no regrets with who I am as a Christian. I have finally arrived, spiritually, to the place I was meant to be. Even though it may not be exactly what my parents had hoped for, ultimately, it was God's doing and that brings me peace, most of all.
OM and Ohms
1 day ago