Sunday, February 6, 2011

Agnostic in a Foxhole

Things in my life have recently taken a turn for the worse. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that (while not as dramatically as the title might suggest), I have been pretty emotionally drained and feel like I am trying to piece back together who I am and what I want.

And here's the thing: like other times in my life that have been trying, I feel this really strong pull back to religion. And not just religion in general, but the very traditional religion of my childhood.

I spent (rather deliberately) the past two Shabbosim visiting some Orthodox friends of mine and keeping Shabbos completely (resisting the urge to even check my phone once). This is something I have not done in a LONG time.

More importantly, perhaps, I feel the need to revert my life back toward Orthodoxy and even to do things like pray. The intellectual in me always makes me pause before doing anything like this and usually I just don't. But it's very much there. I understand that it makes sense, psychologically, for humans to react this way while going through traumatic experiences. Still, it's strange to see it in myself.


Abandoning Eden said...

when I go through emotionally draining stuff- like last semester when I was feeling very overwhelmed/depressed due to moving 10 hours away from everything I know + the insanity of my new job, I tend to start cooking jewish food. Last semester I ahd kugel, lots of chicken soup, and even cholent a couple of times. It's comfort food. Religion is like comfort food too. Ritual is comfort food. That's why people like rituals, because they are comforting.

Me Again said...

At the risk of leaving myself open to those who rail against "pick and choose" religion, I think you should do what helps you find meaning and serenity and peace and the connection you seek. Find your balance- which can change over time, don't feel like you are "locked in" or "locked out" from a particular ritual or observance- and go with that. Good luck!

chaimsmom said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with picking and choosing. I have no intention of being shomer shabbos, yet I enjoy having one day a week that I don't check my email, run errands or do household chores. I use the day to read, meditate, write in my journal - all the things I don't have time to do during the week. Sometimes I go to services, sometimes not. On a nice day I might drive to a state park for a long hike. I'll do anything that helps me quiet my mind and conncect spiritually. I get more out of shabbos now than I ever did when I was shomer shabbos.

Pierre Sogol said...

I'm sure many people who abandoned "fullfledged" ritual observance or communal identity throughout the ages since Tanach harbored many beliefs, practices and cultural behaviors. It's the norm of the ages in fact, why be self-conscious of it?

Philo said...

From some of your past posts, it seems like one of your biggest peeves with the Orthodox community was the role of women. Are you sure you want to drift back to Orthodoxy, or just to observance? This may seem strange coming from someone who still mostly affiliates with Orthodoxy (albeit the left wing) but I applaud anyone who moves towards egalitarianism, and think it's a step backwards to go back behind a mechitza. I know that in some posts over the past year you've said that other streams don't seem like "real" Judaism to you, but maybe it's time to take a second look at Conservative, Reform, Reconstriuctionism, or Renewal. You might find the comfort you need without abandoning your ideals.

On another note, I hope things get better for you soon. Whether it's your aforementioned health issues or something else, I'm sure we are all hoping for things to turn around for you soon.

On Her Own said...

Thanks everyone for your support! I'm trying to work through my issues and, as yet, have not really "strayed" too far from my agnosticism.