I have been thinking for a long time about writing our conversion story. But it seems like such a daunting task, nevertheless I want to give it a go…
Firstly, let me say, I’m kinda uncomfortable with the term “convert” or “conversion”, because to me it seems that “convert”/”conversion” means completely changing from one religion to another. And I don’t feel that I’ve changed religions. I have changed how I “practice” my religion (Christianity), but I haven’t completely changed religions. But, that’s the term that’s used, so I’ll stick with it, just wanted to clarify how I feel ’bout it.
Second, want to say that this will primarily be My story. Jared and I did do the actual First Communion and Confirmation together, but I don’t want to speak for him as to his feelings leading up to this. I’ll bring him in as best I can, but this will primarily be My story.
Now, where to begin?
I guess at the beginning…
I was raised in church. The never-miss-a-Sunday-no-matter-what kinda household. For my first 16 years we were non-denominational Evangelical, then we joined a Charismatic Episcopal Church. At the time we joined, I was having a difficult time with it all, mostly because it was so completely different than what I was used to and probably because of the circumstances under which we joined (the church we were attending was pastored by my dad, and for reasons that never really were made clear, to me at least, the church closed.)
After about six months, I grew to embrace the church and it’s customs and for a while, several years at least, I was pretty happy with it all. Somewhere towards the end of my college years (maybe when I was 20 or 21) the priest retired and a new one came to take his place. When that happened thing started changing. At first it was OK, then things started changing to the point where I wasn’t liking it. The church was becoming more Evangelical, and while there isn’t anything wrong with an Evangelical church per se, it wasn’t what I wanted from church.
Eventually I stopped going all together. Which in hindsight may not have been my most brilliant idea (if you take a look at the page “Katherine’s Story…” that’s about the end result of where “not going to church (or not really caring about church)” lead.
After Katherine was born, we wanted to have her baptized. We still believed, but didn’t really have a church we were comfortable with. (She was baptized at Jared’s home church in GA.) Those feelings pretty much continued, along with sporadically going to the CEC church for a couple of years. I remember feeling at the time, “the kids need to be in church. I may as well go there than anywhere else.” At the time I really didn’t have anywhere else to go. I definitely didn’t want to go to a Protestant church, but the Catholic Church didn’t seem to be in reach either. Mostly I was afraid to go by myself*.
I don’t know where exactly the “need” came from, but I want to end this evening’s beginning by sharing a quote from Thomas Merton’s book The Seven Storey Mountain (which I’m actually reading now, but I think this quote sums up what I meant at the time)
If I did pray… it was probably only one of those… movements of nature… which certainly show that the need to worship and acknowledge Him is something deeply ingrained in our dependent natures, and simply inseparable from our essence.
Tune in tomorrow for Part II!!
*When I say by myself, Jared was feeling much of the same things I was feeling in regards to the CEC church, but this is where our paths diverge a little. I wanted to go to church, not the CEC but A Church. He was more along the lines of waiting to see if things would change at the CEC church (but not ready to go somewhere else in the meantime).