I’ve always loved history; It started as a brief interest when we studied the “olden days” at school in grade 3, and grew when my Dad took me to see Neil Taylor’s vintage (1959-1972) Barbie doll collection on show the following year. It was fascinating to see the trends of the era emulated on the tiny mannequin-like doll, and I immediately fell in love with the bold colours and patterns of the retro fashion; My love for history never branched out from 20th or 19th Century Western culture until I became a statistic of the worse possible kind in mid-2012.
It was that year that I became the 50% of children who’s parent’s marriage ends in separation,1 and then consequently the 35% of teenagers who would need psychological help within the first year of said separation.3 I struggled for the next few years with an anxiety disorder (and still do struggle) that wouldn’t subside, so much so that I had to drop out of mainstream school, even with the help of weekly therapy sessions and medication.
So in 2014 I did something in desperation and without thought – I asked my friend if I could go to church with her family. I’m still not sure why, perhaps because I knew that I needed God, and the Christian concept of Him was the most familiar.
It was a happy-clappy evangelical-y megachurch, but to my surprise, I met God there and for the first time in a long time, I felt genuine peace. There was no prophetic vision, no speaking in tongues, just the deepest form of meditation and peace one could possibly imagine.
I know, I know – I sound like I’m going to give one of those ‘inspirational’ testimonials you see on Hillsong TV at 6am when the rest of the world is sleeping, but hear me out.
Whilst the music was great, and I loved the sense of community, their sermons never stuck out to me as being particularly profound, or even original.
After my initial connection, I became bored and found that I didn’t need the pastor, who actually had very little training in Biblical thought, to intermediate my relationship with my Creator.
I left that church soon after, but continued studying the Bible and fell in love with every facet of religious history. To me, there was/is nothing better than combining my love of history with God’s love for ALL of us; I began blogging about religion and history, mostly Christian history and hermeneutics, at first anonymously, then publicly – but it wasn’t long before I ran into questions, issues and ultimately suffered a year long spiritual crisis.
It started with Islam. Why did Muslim women wear the hijab? Was it cultural or religious? And if it wasn’t cultural, why didn’t Christian women also continue to cover their heads, in accordance with St Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 11?
I looked online for answers to this single question, but instead found fallacious “complimentarianism” and soon after, answers to every yearning my soul had ever pondered.
I had stumbled across a tichel tying tutorial by an Orthodox Jewish woman named Andrea Grinberg, the director and founder of Wrapunzel.com – Up until then, I hadn’t even considered that Jews might also engage in this practise, they seemed like such a small and insignificant group compared to Christians and Muslims.
Andrea’s videos raised new questions for me: What in the world was a tichel, why was it significant to Judaism and how does Mrs Grinberg get her soul to radiate through my computer screen like that? I didn’t know what it was about her, but I felt like I needed that too and I began swallowing every one of her theology videos whole.
It was around this time that I asked my mother a pointed, and quite honestly, an anti-semitic question: “How are Jews not a**holes?! Seriously, have you read the Old Testament?!” – I was genuinely shocked that these women could have such empowering messages whilst following a Book that I had previously believed to be outdated, cruel and had been consequently abolished.
[The depressing irony is that at this point in time, I had not even bothered to read the Tanakh (Old Testament) for myself.]
Penina’s videos had a particular impact on me, as she had reverted to Judaism after 17 years as a Christian/Messianic Jew. Her story intrigued me, and worried me, because she raised objections that I felt I couldn’t ignore.
Soon enough, my blog posts began containing Jewish undertones and after months of inner turmoil, I contacted the organisation Jews For Jesus for some resources to ease my concern; Instead I was met with hostility for having questions, and was subsequently hung up on. In a stubborn response, I bought Penina’s book Scripture Twisting: A Course In Jewish-Christian Polemics and began watching videos by Jews For Judaism, a counter-Jews For Jesus organisation.
My love of history and accurate retellings had finally gotten the better of me – I could no longer accept Jesus as God or as the Jewish Messiah, and I knew immediately that I had to convert.
My love for Jesus as a human being remains strong – If even a quarter of the Christian account of his life is true, he was a righteous and just man. I love my Christian friends and family and will always support the good works of Christians who live their life authentically and in the foot steps of Jesus. (The beautiful thing about Jewish mysticism is that reincarnation is real, meaning Jesus could be the Messiah, he just isn’t yet)
For me, I have to take on 613 Torah commandments as well as additional Talmudic commandments and I know how rigorous, difficult (in every sense of the word), long – taking on average 18 months to 3 years – but completely worth it the conversion process is.
My spiritual journey has not been linear, but I’m proud of where I am, the ancient Middle Eastern culture, history and religion that I am making my own, and for the first time in my life, I am certain of my meaning and purpose.
This decision has been extremely difficult for me, so please be kind. Rude comments will be deleted. I understand and accept that many of my readers will have to stop following this blog, and that they may be disappointed in my decision. My previous blog posts will remain live as a sign of my journey, and because they may continue to be helpful to others. Thank you all for your ongoing support.