This column was supposed to run last week, but the date was pushed back, and the TC Jewfolk editors were hoping I’d contribute something about the Shavuot services that my husband and I planned to attend. Instead, I’ll have to write about how I didn’t attend them, and why.
Meeting me, you may not think I’m an introvert. (I like to think that) I am bubbly, witty, charming, gregarious, and all matter of words not normally associated with introversion. But those moments of extroversion require a vast amount of time alone to recharge, and there are times when things are hard (like now) when it seems that there is no battery that can hold a charge long enough for me to be social.
It took me years to muster the courage to speak to a rabbi about my desire to convert; at one point, I lost whatever fear was holding me back from talking about it, and began to let my feet take me down the path. I wish I could say that I continue to run fearlessly to synagogue, but, truthfully, it is often very nearly too much for me. I am nervous for days before an event or gathering, and worry about being an outsider, a ger, very obviously not Jewish. A friend of mine told me a long time ago that when it was time to convert, I would know, and things would fall into place. What is God, or the Universe, trying to tell me if it hasn’t been easy from there on out?
This may be a ten-year-old column, but it resonates:
Every day, sometimes every hour, poses challenges and opportunities for growth. For religious and non-religious Jews alike, the imperative is to take the next step, beyond one’s comfort zone. Complacency is the opposite of Judaism.
I acknowledge that I have been complacent. I have put a premium on feeling comfortable, even if hiding and licking the wounds life has inflicted upon me lately has not been comfortable, rather than putting a premium on growth.
But I feel this, I do, and I’m not quite sure what to do with it:
Of course, for those of us raised on secular humanism, this requires a Copernican revolution. We have been conditioned to believe that the individual is the center of the universe.
The challenge, as I see it, is in placing “me” on one end of the teeter-totter, and “expressions of faith” on the other. They need to be in balance. Life cannot always be a pity party, wherein I avoid situations that may challenge me because doing hard things is too hard at the moment, but I cannot sacrifice myself, either. That has been my battle.
I’m curious: In what ways have you been challenged when it comes to Judaism? How have you stretched beyond your comfort zone? What do you do when you’re feeling less inspired by your faith?
(Image: Charlie Ambler)