[Today’s guest post is from Sarahbeth Caplin.]
Some people have a clear idea of how God will “use” them, especially if they came to faith from a struggle like drinking, drugs, or some kind of abuse. They know exactly who their audience is. The words come naturally and with ease.
I follow lots of bloggers who treat their writing as their “ministry,” which is how I approached my book and blog at one point. It seemed pretty obvious: I was a Jewish girl yearning for a deeper spiritual life that I couldn’t find within the spiritual community that raised me. And so, controversially, I came to Christ, and eventually, to the Episcopal Church.
Over the years, I’ve been pigeonholed into the role of “the Jew who found Jesus,” which never sat well with me. Even if that’s technically true, I never intended for my story to be some kind of universal example. I couldn’t make myself see my people as “lost” and needing to be saved.
Despite yearning for a personal God in the flesh that is expressly forbidden in traditional Judaism, I still recognized the richness of my traditions and the insights of my ancestral sages. It hurt me to see all that denigrated as worthless because Jesus wasn’t part of it.
I didn’t want to angle my writing to change anyone. Rather, I wanted people to find the fulfillment and hope that I had found. I still want that – and that’s what I wish to communicate to anyone who reads my memoir, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, be they Jewish, Christian, or something else altogether.
Honestly, I think I have more to say to my fellow Christians at this point than I do to the Jewish community. I want Christians to understand that Judaism is more than the prequel to Christianity. I want Christians to understand that their attempts to host Jewish holidays can come off as exploitive. I want them to understand that Jewish interpretations of Hebrew Scripture still matter and are still relevant, even if the two faiths disagree about who the messiah is.
I write with those thoughts in mind, but I also write for those who feel like they don’t fully belong in any one tradition. This may include Jewish converts, but it doesn’t have to. My greatest influencers aren’t those who feel they have all the answers, but ones who are humble enough to admit when they don’t.
What is my “ministry”? I’m confident that it’s writing. Storytelling. Whatever it needs to be.
Sarahbeth Caplin has a bachelor’s degree in English from Kent State University, and a master’s degree in creative nonfiction from Colorado State University. Her memoir, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, was an Amazon bestseller in the “personal growth” category. Her work has appeared in Sojourners, Huffington Post, and Christians for Biblical Equality, among other places. Beth lives in northern Colorado with her husband and fur kids, and blogs at www.sbethcaplin.com. You can connect with her on Twitter too.