Losing Faith with IBD

I come from a Jewish family and while my parents were never very religious, it was still a huge part of their upbringing. My dad, in particular, was very involved in his temple when he was younger, consistently went to synagogue, and always celebrated the Jewish holiday’s with family, friends and others in the community. He has always just loved the culture.

I did go to Hebrew School for a few years and growing up, we always celebrated the holidays, but about four years following my ulcerative colitis diagnosis, I stopped believing. I would pray every single night and when things continued to happen, and truly never go my way, I just couldn’t imagine there was really a God watching over me. And if there was, how could he/she allow all of these awful things to happen to my family and me?

HOW? We were such good people. It wasn’t fair.

My dad’s father also passed away in his arms during my aunt’s Bat Mitzvah in temple. So again, I reiterate, it wasn’t fair and HOW COULD GOD ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN??

My dad would tell me that very religious Jews would argue “if he had to pass, it was the perfect place for him to go.” While my dad tried to believe that, I know it shook him. How could it not? It also paved the way for his siblings to completely lose faith, understandably.

So when you put all of those things together, how was I to believe in anything anymore? I couldn’t and went years and years against the Jewish faith and God in general.

Fast forward to now and I feel a strong desire to belong to something.

My boyfriend is Catholic and since I am around his family more than my own, it makes me feel like I am losing myself in a way. Not because he or anyone in his family is trying to convert me or isn’t incredibly respectful of my faith, but because I miss having a true connection to my own family and heritage.

This year was the first time in about a decade that my parents went to temple on Yom Kippur. They went with my dad’s mother and also ran into a close cousin while they were there.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jewish customs, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish religion. It represents the new year and because of that, you are supposed to fast from sundown the night before until sundown of that day. Growing up, my parents and I just fasted during the day and didn’t cut ourselves off at sundown the night before. It was just the act of sacrificing and washing away any bad “juju” from the previous year that was meaningful to us.

This year was the first time my parents actually fasted for the holiday. Since I couldn’t be there with them, I wa nted to do my part also and fast. My dad told me that he didn’t think it would be healthy for me and to wait until next year when I am (knock on wood) a little stronger. Coming from my dad, who is a lot more religious than my mom, this meant a great deal to me.

My dad went into telling me how God doesn’t want anyone to do anything that would or could be detrimental for a person’s health. For example, if you are pregnant, sick, on medications or are elderly, it is not advised - and apparently OKAY with God - that you do not take part in the fasting portion of the holiday. Attending temple and really feeling what the holiday is all about is what is important.

I did it anyway and I felt physically awful.

My dad always had this saying “I may not always be right but I am never wrong.” I wish that wasn’t so true! :)

The reason I bring this up is because even though I was very desperate to do something that could potentially bond me with my family and religion, I did not do the smart thing. I didn’t take it to an extreme given I did have some sips of water which isn’t “allowed” but still… it was not a smart decision for my health. My dad was right.

I know it is hard for those of us who suffer from Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis (IBD) to balance our health and the things we want to be able to do. It is something I have not yet mastered but am trying to make note and learn from my mistakes. I also recognize and want to hone in on the fact that the way your health is this year might not be the same as the following. Inflammatory bowel disease is very unpredictable, as most of you already know. We could be having a great day and then BAM, something happens completely outside of our control. Our bodies and minds are forever changing.

Don’t give up on the things you want to do and feel a need to take part in. Just listen to your body and be smart about it.

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