September 25, 2005

Profession of Faith

This might get religiousy, so I thought I'd give you the option of passing...

Before I continue, let me say this. I am not now nor shall I ever be a bible-thumping, fire and brimstone speaking, stereotypical religious zealot. I won't tell you your going to Hell for not believing or for being bad or for whatever. I won't preach to you (although I have been told that I can be preachy), I won't minister to you, I won't do anything like that. Your beliefs, convictions, ideals, or whatever are yours and yours alone. For me, finding religion changes nothing on the outside, but it makes big changes on the inside. I am writing this to tell you, Dear Reader, that religion, specifically Christianity, means something to me now.

I've been thinking about the Profession of Faith a lot lately, to the point that I sometimes give myself a headache. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a 'profession of faith', it refers to making a statement whereby you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. No, I've not done this, but I've thought about it. A lot.

You see, I would never be confused with someone who was religious. I'm not anti religion, it's just never been a part of my life. Although both sides of my family are Jewish and I profess to being a Jew, I can't really say I am one. Being Jewish was thrust upon me, if you will, the day my parent's divorce became final. I went to bed having no religious affiliation and woke up a Jew. No, I'm not kidding. As a matter of fact, my real last name should be Goldberg, but my Dad changed it way back when.

For my Mom, growing up Jewish was a good thing, for my Dad, not so good. As a result, neither my brother nor I knew anything about being Jewish until the divorce. We celebrated Easter and Christmas, but it was secular, not religious celebration. I knew my Bubbie didn't do these things, but I don't remember if I ever knew why. Religion in my house, pre divorce, didn't exist. Post divorce, we were thrown into the middle of it. And I fought it, not because I didn't want to be Jewish, but because I had no idea what was going on. I meant it literally when I said I woke up and was a Jew.

As a result, I know almost nothing about what it means to be Jewish. I went to Hebrew school 3 times a week for close to 3 years and learned to read Hebrew. I couldn't translate it, but I could sure read it. I had a Bar Mitzvah, but that's just because it's what you did in my hometown when you turned 13. I did the entire service in Hebrew and have no idea at all of what I said. To me, that's really sad. I guess it's because I just didn't give a shit and was only doing it because it was expected of me. Now that I'm older, I find myself wanting to learn, but not about being Jewish.

I've been doing an on-again/off-again Bible study with my good friend Jack. The reason I asked him to help me was for several reasons, 1) He knows a tremendous amount about the Bible, 2) I knew he wouldn't laugh at my sheer ignorance, and 3) He is passionate in his Belief. I made the right choice.

At first, I was interested in learning about the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, but Jack didn't do it that way. I started learning about Christianity, which really wasn't my intent, but then I became interested in it. Really interested. Jack opened my eyes to a lot of things, but the part that struck me about this was he answered questions that he couldn't possibly know I had, because I'd never told him about them. He explained about sin, and the nature of man, and how it's possible to be Christian and to still be human, how good works alone cannot save you. The things he spoke about made sense to me, they made me think, and they helped me to see that being a Christian was 180 degrees from what I thought it meant. The thing that I got out of meeting with him is that for the first time in my life, religion made sense to me. Having faith in something you couldn't see or touch or smell always eluded me, but now I understand that it's possible.

Over the years, I've thought about making a Profession of Faith, but the reasons for doing it were not because I believed, but because I would be accepted. It was for the glad handing and the back slapping at the front of the Church, for the feeling of being wanted and accepted, but I knew those weren't the right reasons. For those reasons, I won't do it in front of an audience in Church, I'll do it surrounded by a few close friends who mean a lot to me and who'll know the reasons for it.

When will I do it? I don't know. I'm concerned about my family's reaction, specifically my Mom's. In the past, when I've told my Mom about major decisions in my life, her reaction has been less than joyful. When I told her I was moving to California to work for my Dad, she said a few choice words and hung up on me. When I told her I was getting married in a church because that's where the ex wanted to have it, she said, "What will my friend's think?" then hung up on me...and didn't talk to me for two weeks. Will I allow her reaction to stop me from making this decision? No, not at all. It hasn't in the past and it won't now. If she doesn't like it, she has two choices...she can get past it and accept it, or she can have one brother. It's her choice.

The thing I want you to understand about all of this is that the decision will be mine and mine alone. No one will pressure me or coerce me into doing'll be all me. I've shared alot with you, Dear Reader, over the last two years and although I don't normally talk about religion, I thought you might be interested in this. It's a huge step for me, but it feels right, and that's what counts.


Thank you for sharing that.

Posted at September 26, 2005 01:14 AM

It sounds like you have thought this through quite well, and as an adult you can make better decisions about religious beliefs than just being born into it.

Don't worry about your mother. My mother is obsessed with what other people will think of her if her children do x or y and I let her alone to deal with her own personal hell so that I could continue to grow personally and learn how to be content and happy. You should do what makes you happy and your mother will learn to live with it. It's not like you just decided to partake of the crack rock, anyway. You are making a decision with beneficial consequences.

Posted at September 26, 2005 10:02 AM

Oy vey, he's a meshugganah!


Posted at September 26, 2005 04:17 PM

Thank you for sharing a very private part of yourself with me and the rest of your readers. You are a good man, Howard!! Keep on keepin' on!!

Posted at September 26, 2005 06:56 PM

HOWARD! I am sooooo excited for you! Way back when I first met you and during your visits to AR and mine to MS as we got to know each other better I began praying for you...not for anything imparticular but just that you would one day find the faith that you questionned.
It's all in God's time, and you will know when its time to make your Profession.
Man, I'm so excited for you!

Posted at September 28, 2005 11:21 PM

My story is a little different. My parents didn't divorce. I didn't have Jewishness thrust upon me by them until I married a shiksa.

Posted at October 1, 2005 02:24 PM