Finding Home in His Kingdom

Some people know how talented they are growing up. They know exactly what they’re good at, know they can be great at anything, and know exactly what they want to do in life.
I was not that person even a little bit. It’s actually a running joke between my siblings and me that we have no life skills because we weren’t really taught anything. (So thanks for the people that are willing to teach us and not make us feel less than for not knowing!)
We did have some other interests though. I used to write every free moment of my day – poems, stories, with other people, about my life. Every year I can remember in school, I won a writing award and was published in the Beauregard Students Write book.
In about sixth grade, I fell in love with french braids and made it a personal mission to learn how to do them. Since there was no one to practice on but myself, I got really strong arms before I finally mastered the skill. By the time I was graduating, everyone knew me as the person that loved to style hair in all sorts of ways but with a specialty in different braiding techniques.
I was always the baker in my family. When someone wanted dessert, they put me up to the task, and I gladly took over and fell in love.
I was the classic nerd. I always had a book with me. If it wasn’t a book, I was ready to take notes or ask questions. Boy, can I ask a lot of questions! Consequently, this meant I knew lots of little bits of information that I never realized were “odd” to know. People would ask me questions all the time about different things. Sometimes it was advice on tough situations. Other times, they asked me random trivia. Then at other points, they would ask me to teach them. They expected me to know.
Later in life as I started discovering my faith in Torah, I was almost overwhelmed with how much there was to learn. I did the kid Bible classes at church for about 5 years, and that isn’t a lot of stuff to know because it was mostly memorizing verses in the workbooks they gave us. My own family didn’t push religious beliefs on us, so not only was I the one kid in those classes thinking, “What are they talking about?” when they started asking questions about specific people and events, I was also the one that might as well have been an atheist in a church. (Yeah, fun years.)
But like I said before, I was the classic nerd. Learning wasn’t new territory or hard for me to get my head around. Not growing up in the church actually left me a blank canvas in a lot of ways that prevented me from needing to unlearn mistruths like many are having to now. It was actually the doing part that was overwhelming for me to learn.
Needing to learn about tzitzit, when to observe the Feasts and the nightmare confusion that caused with calendar debates (and why in the world DO we ignore the moon if Scripture says to go by the moon?), how to observe them and what the terms “High Sabbath” had to do with working or not working, what in the world is a siddur and why do I need to do it, is it okay to cook with this fat or is that the fat we aren’t allowed to have, if you want to plant trees and eat from them what years can we do that in or does that even count since we’re not in the Land, what’s the difference between dresses for ladies and what men were wearing were practically dresses so how do we dress differently…
The doing was incredibly overwhelming for me. Particularly because we weren’t raised in a family that honored doing to begin with but also because I was trying to grapple with these concepts in a belief system that, as far as I knew, was nonexistent here. It didn’t help that I felt massively incapable of doing any of them. Having to schedule, cook, prepare ahead of time, make all these beautiful things, actually stop to rest for a whole day every single week, and somehow live a life that is accurately teaching others about Him? The perfectionist in me was nearly crippled with anxiety. The girl that was sure she had no capabilities to bring to the Kingdom was ready to make a run for it.
Fortunately for me, I had a close friend that had been walking in the Torah for 10 years to carry the burden of my incessant questioning and took the lead in a lot of ways for the big stuff. I trudged on the first year in an ungracious way that also came with the innocent, child-like excitement of constantly talking about it when I definitely had no business talking about it yet.
When she told me to prepare for a feast, I did. When she told me to bring something, I did. I read and learned but it wasn’t clear yet, so I stuck to what I knew: following directions. I didn’t have to understand the calendar arguments because at least I had someone that had already fought through that and was giving me the heads up to be ready for it. I didn’t naturally think, “Get rid of all the yeast!” but she reminded me. It took me up until the day before to realize the second part is also, “Eat unleavened bread.”
Eventually I took on the challenge of making my own tzitzit. I saw a popular how to video on it and finally something felt familiar: braiding! It was actually kind of sad how excited I was about it, too. I was confident this would be a no brainer for me, and I was right. I made all sorts of styles of braids and had sets of them for days. My favorite part is that it was something I naturally felt inclined to, so I got to actually enjoy it without wrestling too much with myself on getting it perfect.
Those small fringes dangling from our clothes is what made me feel like I was actually part of the Kingdom without having to ride the curtail of someone more experienced than me. The story of the lady desperately clinging for Yeshua’s tzitzit resonates with me on a different level than it does for some. One, because I felt like her: desperate to just get to that point of wholeness. Two, because when she finally got to that point, she was whole again. I finally felt whole even though the rest of the doing was still foreign.
The more time went on, the more things started to click for me. I love to bake and braid: tzitzit, challah, nearly every Feast we have being related to milk and honey and baking in general. I love to write: I get to share my journey with Abba with others as they learn. I love to learn: I get to study nonstop, all the time, and questions are a good thing to know how to ask. I love to teach: I get to live my learnings daily and when others ask questions, I’m almost always able to help because I’ve had the same questions before. I love to be organized and prepared: hello Shabbat!
There are countless ways I’ve had to grow and nurture new skills that I wasn’t capable of before. Often, I don’t even realize it’s a skill until I start falling into place with what to do and someone else hasn’t gotten to that point yet.
I knew I found my home in Him when I found my own heart’s longings and desires matching readily with His. The doing was a testament to those heart longings. For someone that has never felt part of something before, finding Him and the people of His Kingdom gave me a renewed idea of who I am in the best way.
It’s an amazing thing to grow in that identity, and for everyone that has ever lifted me up throughout the learning process, thank you. He helped me find that purpose I felt was missing and also a home to pour those purposes into in His people. The doing with others really made it all come to life because I’m not just thinking, talking, or reading about it. I’m getting to actively bring Scripture to life with others. And He used me in all my capability and blessed me with even more.