From Christmas to Chanukah: Or, How I Completely Left Non-Jewish Forms of Following the L-rd

There were some pretty radical changes that took place in my adult life, in which I recognize a distinct movement from Non-Jewish Forms to some fashion of Jewish forms of worship, not necessarily to be confused with being part of the Hebrew Roots movement.

There are three distinct seasons in my conversion from celebrating Advent and Christmas to Sukkot and Chanukah.

In the first season, which lasted from the age of 4 until about 24, Christmas celebrations were marked by the strong presence of my mother and maternal grandparents. The celebrations in those years were life-giving because they revolved around family, and were accompanied by choir events. The expectation that surrounded these moments was excellent, and I deeply appreciated that.

Then came the second season of its remembrance from 2005 until about 2011, which became excessively negative. I married the mother of my sons, and these celebrations were radically marked by her imposing will. Her love of Christmas was so dominant in her life that her attitude and that of her mother colored everything each December, so that, even when I attempted to reel in some of those celebrations of the vaunted materialism, she retaliated that I was being a Scrooge (yes, if you want to silence someone without understanding their protests of Xmas, then cuss them with “Scrooge” into silence) and the momentum carried me away as her agenda was one of outright control, a mentality that colored our entire marriage.

That dynamic disgusted me, and, unfortunately, my sons were born during that era of confusion and defilement.

As a result, I was left with an emptiness as a result of the superficial celebration of that day.

Then came the third season, the one after my divorce, when G-d orchestrated events in such a way that the first night of Chanukah in 2012 coincided with the return of my joy, after I thought my life was over and I was going to rot in hell for filing for divorce when I swore I never would (adultery makes the scorned party consider all sorts of options, some stupid, and some that are engaged just to stop the bleed-out).

Then came the night after I filed, and after months of not having any emotion because , and a conversation with a Jewish Exhorter, my laughter returned.

And with it, I emerged from a depression over the destruction of my marriage that I. thought. would. never. end.

And in that season when I was forced to file for divorce, it was as my friend David observed, the way divorce should be.

Divorce from anyone, and especially an adulterous spouse, is something to be celebrated in the same way the death of a hated enemy or heathen should be, which is NEVER.

G-d takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Much less in the destruction of a family.

Divorce is designed to be a tourniquet that is applied when the limb of your mate is severed irreparably.

So, treat it with the sobriety of the death in a family, because in Moses’ time, death was what happened in response to adultery.

When adultery happens, it is a full-on fatal bleed-out. And, biblically, two broad categories of options are left to the believer.

Divorce or reconciliation.

When I had first heard my ex-wife had been unfaithful, my response was to give her 90 days to repent.

And then I was forced to admit the brokenness of the marriage because she claimed to love two men.

The day I filed was December 7, 2012: Pearl Harbor Day.

The following night was one of the nights of, if not the first night of, Chanukah.

I was on the phone to a friend from Missouri, processing this.

I had not been able to laugh have strong emotion, or engage socially with anyone outside my close friend, Jeff Sickler. This season was my “dark night of the soul”.

Placid as a still lake on a winter night.

And then, it came.

Laughter.

I don’t believe it was laughter at the stupidity of the situation. It was the laughter of joy. I was able to proceed with my life, and I felt the return of life.

And I was able to connect with people at church and start interacting with those people.

And my zeal for the Scripture returned.

And that unwrapped for me that year during Chanukah, so heavily that that week had marked the calendar.

And at that point, I knew I was to return to that point of memory every year and remember the deliverance that had happened, and the recovery of my light and my joy.

So, Sukkot was a different matter altogether for a different post.

But I leave you with this bit from Saul of Taursus.

“Let every man be fully convinced in his own mind.”

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