Grueling Choices

Grueling Choices

My shocking radical turn, the most practical decision of my life, entailed breaking away from the only reality I had ever known, the collective conversation of which I was a part. It forced me to let go of expectation, ego, and the conventional wisdom of a lifetime. From the inside, I see my epiphany as a seamless progression of values and disposition, but for my loved ones it remains a complete anomaly.

During the time my faith was incubating, I experienced crushing anxiety due to conflict and indecision. Reflecting on how I came to resolve these doubts, I see a pattern of dissonance and renegotiation. I will always understand the Jewish sensibility—that of a minority group trying to protect itself. Paradoxically, as I contemplated leaving a civilization always on the edge of survival, pride in my identity became strengthened and chiseled, honed as if on a rough-edged stone. Without pretense, I can state that the Jewish mystique, with its timeless unfolding in the blood stream of history, is writ large upon my psyche.

I worked through reservations by praying, reflecting, and assimilating small increments of faith at a time. A too-sudden conversion would have assaulted my psyche like a giant wrecking ball. Though the insights came gradually—some scarcely apprehended and others denied, they conquered my being with stellar, steadfast force. I experienced complete transformation and a reorientation of my soul.

Initially, I felt caught between two worlds that I couldn’t bridge.  I longed for closure. Psychologists refer to this as the classic “approach-avoidance conflict.” In my schizophrenic interior wrestling, every confirmation half-grasped disintegrated into thin air. I lived in a negative space, like the push-pull between two dueling magnets. If I trusted in God’s leading, I risked being lost in translation in a community that I loved. The thread of Jewishness resided in my consciousness as a state of being not a theoretical fact. I simply couldn’t sync my growing resolve with the ambiguities of my life. I sat with myself waiting for something to push me towards final surrender.

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