I have just completed reading a stellar book. One which has crept into my top 2 favorite books of all time. (Well, top 3 because I guess I have to stick the Bible in there somewhere. Just kidding.) I have finished it and now have to return it to its rightful owner and therefore the next few posts will revolve around some responses to this book before it leaves my pretty little hands.
This is my first post. Some background which is essential - This book, Girl Meets God, written by Lauren F. Winner (Shaw Books, Colorado Springs, CO: 2002), tells of the story and struggles which Lauren deals with as she becomes Christian after converting to Orthodox Judaism.
I recommend it highly. Especially for females. Anyway . . . this struck me when I first read it:
Sometimes divorce is the only thing to do. Sometimes it is the more loving thing to do. Sometimes, you have to do it. But before you divorce, you try every imaginable avenue to stay married. You quit your affair. You find a good marriage counselor. You tell your husband everything you should have told him three years ago .. . and then you get down on your knees and you ask the Lord to help you forgive your husband, and you remind all of your friends who witnessed your wedding that they witnessed it and are supposed to hold you to the promises you made, and you do anything else you can think of to save your marriage.
To further the analogy: I had married Judaism and then I had an affair with a foreign God, another religion, I took another lover. And I realized I was in love with that other lover, and I wrung my hands for a while. I struggled through my own inner turmoil and angst and then I handed my shocked husband divorce papers, threw my stuff into some empty cardboard boxes, and moved out, setting up house with my new love before an even passably decent interval elapsed.
I did not do what I should have done. I never once sat my husband down and told him the cold, hard truth, that I had fallen in love with someone else but I wanted to try to make this marriage work and what, exactly, were we going to do about it? Not one conversation. I never said a word to Rabbi M. about Jesus. Nothing to Beth, no discussions at all. I never said, I made that mikvah pledge and I am failing and I need you to help me.
The marriage analogy cuts both ways. My husband was not really a hapless dope. Those divorce papers were not the first hint of my affair. There were the unexplained absences at dinnertime, the strange men calling on the phone, the lipstick stains on collars and the otherwise inexplicable cycles of ecstasy and depression: glowingly happy when I'd seen my paramour, morose to end the world when I hadn't.
I doubt Beth or Tova or my rabbi suspected I was out on the town with Jesus, but they knew, all of them, that I was around less and less. That I was going to shul less frequently, that I was spending Friday nights lingering over Shabbat dinner less often . . . I doubt any of them thought I was filling my shul time with church, but they knew I was filling it with something, and none of them ever said anything. None of them ever said, Hey, just checking up on you. Is something up? Is something the matter? Or, harsher, Lauren, you know shul. You really
need to be there. I was part of their religious body; saying those things was their job.
So now I tell all of these words to Beth . . . The words spill out fast with anger . . . I want her to have tried to hold me to those promises . . . to have said something, to have asked me why I wasn't doing what I said I would do. It want her to have done the rude, invasive thing, the hard thing. I want her to have read my own words back to me and to have stood there in the silence till I somehow had to respond.
- Lauren Winner
I read this section about a month and a half ago, and I had marked it to respond to later. I had all of these thoughts in my head about blogging this, interacting with it, and pleading with my friends to hold me accountable to my faith in Christ which seemed to be slipping away so uncontrollably.
I had delayed writing this blog, due mostly to my fear of transporting this book to my workplace and somehow wrecking it in the process. (I have a huge fear of destroying other people’s paperback books. One which is valid because in the transport a teeny corner of this book got damaged. SICK! Sorry, Kara!) So there is much of a delay, and my situation and place in life and faith has changed a bit. However, I would still like to send a plea to my friends, albeit a little differen than what was first conceived.
Life changes quickly. And faith seems to change quickly, which confuses me, but I think that the core stays the same. My journey is not completely the same as Lauren’s. No affair or luring from anybody or anything - I had have many conversations with Jesus about friends and he was not kept in the dark. Many friends have conversed with me about important matters of faith, and I appreciate their boldness and courage in this. Thank you, friends. I know that I have a great family of support and care for my spiritual well-being.
I do ask that you would keep it up. That you would feel free and encouraged to ask the hard questions, to “read my own words back to me and . . . (stand) in the silence till I somehow (I have) to respond.” I need people to remind me of the promises I have made to my God. I need people to read back my words of commitment, of love, back when things seemed so clear. I need to, when I stray, have a gentle (or maybe not-so-gentle) reminder of my baptism.
Times have changed. I have straightened some things out, and the threat of divorce is not quite as imminent as it was a few weeks ago. I am trying. I am committed to Christ, but the pains attached to that life and life in general are oftentimes so overwhelming, so intangible yet so cutting. I feel like I have lost who I am. But I am trying to get back on track, and I feel empowered and supported by so many. Thanks.
So this is really a post of hope, and of thanks, and of a request for help. Things are better. I am determined to make them better. But I need your help to keep me accountable to who I was, who I am, and to my words of commitment to my faith which I expressed in more clearer times than these.
Thank you for your friendship, support, and challenge. You are all very important to me.