In a bittersweet twist of fate, I started out "too Jewish" for my Catholic friends in elementary school, but not Jewish enough for the kids I met at summer camp, with their youth group logos and wristbands. In Israel, I didn't feel I had the right to call myself Jewish at all. Now I was too Christian for Jews everywhere, but still too Jewish to completely fit in with my new bible study friends.
In my most pessimistic moments, I wonder if I'll never fit in anywhere, with anyone. It's interesting because Christians are called to be pariahs, to go against the ways of this world. But I am a special kind of pariah.
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Ever get the feeling that some serendipitous moments are more divine interventions? Or maybe that's me. I've been "chasing" Jesus almost my whole life. I've read every book in the New Testament, and managed only to make it through Numbers in the Old Testament. When I look back to my past for reflections, I can pinpoint where I felt Him the most, and the days where my doubts and fears won me over. It's a bit - and I'll use the word, weird here, as I have no other words right now - weird to read someone else's musings and simultaneously say, "that's me," and "that's so not me." I read Confessions in one sitting and Sarahbeth is witty, and honest, and incredibly curious about her faith - both her place in Judaism and her eventual path to Christianity. I suppose if I was born Jewish, with the same fervor in finding Christ, I would have penned almost exactly this story. Except, I'm not. Growing up in the Philippines, you were either Catholic or a Muslim. I remember being introduced to a few Baptists when I moved to Texas. As an adolescent girl who wanted to fit in, I noticed that most of my counterparts were Southern Baptists. I wasn't a "Christian." Because of my ignorance - you were either a Christian (Baptists) or not - I deflated anything Catholic related. I remember in college being 'saved.' Nevermind, that I had grown up in the Church, did the religious classes for communion, and confirmation - rite of passages for a Catholic kid. Also, glaring obvious that I've pointed out to several Southern Baptists who have tried to convert me, that I didn't realize that there were two Jesus Christs in history. She counterpointed by saying, I'm not a true Catholic then, if I didn't know the names to ALL the Saints......There are thousands, let me tell you, and I promise not knowing all of them is not a basis to determine if you're a "good Catholic" or a "bad Catholic." I know nothing about my faith. I still equate my collegiate year in 2004 as the moment I felt at peace with the world and my place in it. It's funny that Sarahbeth said her literal "come to Jesus" moment happened on the bathroom floor of her dormitory. Mine was on a stairwell, bottom floor of my dorm, overlooking the campus gym. Not exactly the perfect setting for both of us to begin our spiritual journey. I also remember the hypocrisy of Evangelicals and the "Christian" culture. I felt the pull of being torn. That no matter what I do, how many questions I ask, I will never be good enough to warrant a place at His table. I'm digressing. This story isn't about my walk in faith. It's Sarabeth's. But I feel so connected to her that her story might as well be mine! While I didn't grow up wanting to be a Nun (her case, a Rabbi), I often felt out of place in high school and college. Where my friends partied and experimented, I only wanted to drink from His cup and know so much more about Christ. He really is someone worth knowing. He is worth loving. Him. His Words. His way of life, of living and being should be looked at, read over, poured and thought about, and followed - especially in today's glaringly hypocritical Christian culture. We're not all worshipping the same way, but love looks like Him. Is Him. Somewhere in our society, we pick up pieces that we like, and throw away the ones that we don't. Thank you, Sarahbeth for your story. Your pilgrimage and testimony of a faith is something that most of us 'cradle Christians' take for granted. I truly believe in this divine in
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter by Sarahbeth Caplin is about the personal journey of the author who, though a Jewish by birth, was drawn towards Jesus. She was brought up in a conservative Catholic town with strict Jewish values. The book tells you how the author struggled to find her personal peace by sacrificing her comfort zone in search of her true purpose in life. The author always considered herself to be the black sheep of her family and she realizes that it will not be easy to get rid of her Jewish identity. The book throws insight into Judaism, Jewish culture, and traditions. The book strikes a chord within many of us, especially the ones who are fighting inner demons to finally find a peaceful coexistence with the many contradictory thoughts. The author speaks about Judaism and Christianity and tells readers many interesting facts about these two religions. The author's spiritual journey forms the crux of the story. The book is about how she starts off as a staunch Jew and ends up being a staunch follower of Jesus Christ by the time the book is over. The conversational style of writing helps readers connect with the author very well. The personal struggles of the author make it very human and many readers can relate to what the author is trying to convey. The fluidity of her thoughts and her honesty makes the book very appealing.
Sarabeth was raised Jewish all her life... albeit not strictly Jewish. She had experiences in her young life which made her want to avoid Christians. She held little regard for them. However, she attended public schools so was exposed to many Christian attitudes and traditions. She decided at seventeen she would become a Jewish Rabbi and was determined to do so even into college. During her college years she had experiences which led her to question her Jewish faith. This is a works of Sarabeth and her testimony and musings of her life in High School and College that led to the biggest change in her life ever. She ends her story at her life at the present time. The questions and challenges she has experienced can be an inspiration to others. It can also cause Christians to question, "Am I truly a Christian?" "Do I strive to live my life as Christ did His?" "Through my words and actions, do I strive to lead others to Christ or do I cause them to turn away?" I found her memoir interesting and perhaps it is because I truly find others lives and experiences memorable. I truly care about my fellow being. Either way, many of us will benefit fro reading this book. This was given me by the author for an honest book review, of which I have given.