My life has been, well strange. I have shared various key parts of my life story throughout this blog. When I began writing, almost three years ago, I shared mainly about my own struggles of not really fitting in as a Messianic believer. I haven’t shared as much in the past year or so because about every time that I write about Messianic Judaism, I offend SOMEBODY, and it is usually a Christian before it is a Jew. Today I chose to turn my head away from the possible criticism and share once again about my experiences growing up Messianic.
I was in Preschool when my family was invited to visit a Chanukah service at a Messianic Synagogue, and my family fell in love with it. Within a year, we were celebrating all of the feasts, keeping Sabbath, and were on a completely Kosher diet. Now, at 20 years old, this is the only lifestyle that I know. Even within the seasons that I haven’t been following God, I have always kept Kosher, and at least gone to services for holidays. Although I have a few problems with how members of my denomination have a tendency to handle some issues, I do not see myself leaving the roots that were ingrained into me.
Here are a few thoughts I have about growing up in the Messianic, Torah following movement.
I learned early on, that generally the Christians will not accept you, and if they do, they will probably try to convert you. I struggle with what I call, “Sunday Morning Christians.” One of my strongest and most traumatizing stories that I have, happened when was about seven years old. My family was visiting a Baptist Church and during Children’s church, the teacher taught a salvation message. The teacher asked me if I was saved, and I shared that I was messianic, and she proceeded to tell me that I was not saved if I was Messianic and that I was going to go to hell. I was scared, for YEARS after that, that I wasn’t truly saved, and repeatedly asked Yeshua into my heart. Looking back, I wonder how someone who is so anti-Semitic would ever be put into a position of leadership.
I have story after story about being emotionally scarred, and somewhat discriminated by members of the Christian church. I guess, you just learn not to bring it up, if you want to be accepted by fellow Christians. I have found, that it is honestly not worth bringing up with potential new friends who are Christians. I do not deny my faith, however, there’s a time and a place to discuss who the Torah is for, we agree on the important content so that is really all that matters. I never make plans on a Friday night, besides Temple. I can recite Hebraic prayers in basically my sleep. I sleep in on Sunday mornings and I couldn’t tell you the name of a single hymn until I joined the choir in my private Christian high school. I would not have my life any other way though.
I have a HUGE appreciation for human connection, especially with the few people who I can actually relate too. I could not have made it through my teen years without my many long venting sessions with Margo and Zevi, two young Messianic believers that I grew up with in my temple, that can relate to the struggles and tribulations that come with proclaiming you are a Torah follower. I am grateful for all of the older members (mainly women) who helped guide me with scripture about the questions I have, especially about how to practically take the Torah and put it into practice. I am grateful for the random strangers that I meet online, mainly through Lama-Leah who are Messianic as well. But more importantly, I am grateful for those who love me unconditionally. Those who don’t accuse me of being in a cult, when they find out that I am Messianic. In 2017-2018, I have been connected with more people who have done just this.God has placed more free thinking, open-minded, individuals in my life then I have ever had and I could not be more grateful for all of them.
Through my unique upbringing, I had to learn from a very early age to be okay with being different. I rarely felt any sense of belonging, therefore in those rare times that I feel like I truly belong, I have learned how to treasure it. I feel extremely special that I had to learn this so soon in life, because I am not afraid to be different, to stand out a little, to defend my believes when appropriate. I am not afraid to be out of my comfort zone because I am rarely in it. Life can be extremely limited when you life a life of fear of being different, but I say that there’s power in being so.
As a young adult, I can honestly say that the biggest and probably most important thing that I learned out of the constant trials that occur when you proclaim Messianic Judaism as your own, is to learn how to love unconditionally. People will be different from you, but you will always be remembered by how you make others feel. Be the LIGHT in someones world. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Make others wonder why you are different, and how you make that difference. Be the person, and influence that you needed when you were younger. What I needed, was someone, a friend who wasn’t judgmental but also wasn’t a negative influence. I needed someone who didn’t try to get me to convert, but loved me for who I was. I craved acceptance, but eventually found that I was better off standing alone. I want things to be different for the next generation of Messianic believers, because keeping this lifestyle is challenging enough. I want my fellow young Torah followers to be proud to skip a friday night high school football game because they are in temple, or be okay with not eating the pepperoni pizza at a party. I want things to be different, and it can start with me.
In every path that you walk through, you are going to experience beasts and beauties. My prayer for you is that you will always find a way to find beauty within ashes.