Monday, August 15, 2011

Shayna Reed's Sinai Statement: Celebrating Confirmation and An Individual Relationship with G-d

Ed Note: The fourth in our series of our Confirmand's Sinai Statements comes from Shayna Reed. Shayna writes about her individual relationship with God and how her learning in the Confirmation Year has encouraged her to find her own personal relationship with belief as part of the ongoing Jewish journey.

I’ve been going to Religious School for a really really long time, and in the process I have formed many opinions on all sort of topics like prayer, the Jewish relationship with Israel, and the best kind of hamentashen filling (definitely poppy seed). However, one topic that has been harder for me to process and form opinions on is my individual relationship with G-d. I went into this year only knowing what I don’t believe about G-d. I do not believe G-d controls our world and our destinies completely. I do not think G-d is wholly uninvolved in our lives. I don’t believe G-d is so involved as to keep records of our every action and rewards or punishes accordingly, and I do not believe that G-d is our conscience. As a biology geek I tend towards believing that G-d is the order found through science because I see something majestic in the way our world is organized; however, I don’t think that science encompasses the entire nature of G-d or how we lowly humans can relate to G-d. As beautiful as science is to me because it explains our world, some things simply cannot be explained and therefore suggest divine presence.

Obviously, judging from the hardly comprehensive list of ideas I have already rejected, G-d is different for everyone. The one conclusion that I can draw about my own views from our G-d discussions is that I greatly respect the Jewish faith’s command to constantly question G-d in serious ways. As the people Yisrael, even our name reflects our constant struggle with G-d as it literally means “one who will struggle with G-d.” This struggle means that we must constantly re-evaluate what we have learned and always seek more knowledge and reflect on our experiences and the teachings of others. I feel comfortable with Judaism because I am not forced to believe in one ideology, and my understanding of G-d can change as my understanding of life does. I don’t agree with everything our religion tells us but I love the discussions and insights that are stimulated by questioning it. G-d is confusing and ultimately unknowable. However, I know that I will always struggle with G-d, as Jacob and all the Jews before me have.

by Shayna Reed

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