Begin at the Beginning

26 Feb

Two weeks ago I walked down the aisle of a Catholic Church for the first time. As a non-Catholic I had never before that point been allowed to walk down that aisle and participate to the degree that The Church allows its actual members. In twenty seven days I will walk that aisle again and I will take Communion for the first time in years. At that point my conversion to Catholicism will be real.

I don’t really feel like a convert. Maybe I will in the future, but honestly I just feel like Catholicism is the culmination of everything I’ve ever been taught. It’s as if every person I’ve ever known, every thought I’ve ever thought, and every book I’ve ever read has brought me here: to The Church.

It’s hard not to think and to speak of my conversion in ways that reflect the things I have run away from rather than those things I am running toward. I have left and am leaving the Protestant Church for a lot of reasons…

Protestantism exhausted me and drained away my desire and my ability to love.

My parents raised me to hold GOD above all else. They taught me what it meant to devote myself to Him, to obey Him, to revere Him, to love Him. From a young age I found myself in love with GOD – in love with He who had no name but GOD, He who loves and desires to be loved, He who gives and takes away, He who knew me before I was formed.

But the older I got, the more I struggled to find the GOD I fell in love with as a child. I lost Him amongst the various gods the Protestant Church handed me.

Those gods would not love me if I didn’t sign a purity pledge. They would curse me with diseases, infertility, and an unfaithful husband if I didn’t accept their ring.

Those gods hated music unless it was created for a homogonous audience of Christian listeners.

Those gods hated girls that went to college. They knew that girls who go to college become liberals who pursue the god-forbidden American Dream.

Those gods hated people who didn’t respond to altar calls, attend their worship services, and pour out money into the church building fund.

Those gods hated bad attitudes. They hated honesty and instead expected painted on faces that hid brokenness – because god-forbid someone who’s been forgiven feel anything but undeniable, bubbly, annoyingly-perky happiness all the time.

Those gods hated questions and doubt. They hated those who asked questions even more though.

Most of all…those gods hated me. They hated me because no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get things right. No matter how many times I prayed the sinner’s prayer, or walked down the aisle, or held my hands up to prove I wasn’t ashamed of worship, I still wasn’t good enough for those gods. I still screwed up too often for them not to chastise me for being a “backslider.”

I grew to hate those gods as much as they hated me. I’d say that I hated them more, but the force of those gods’ hate is incomparable – I couldn’t reach it if I tried.

I hated them for hating me, for condemning me, for betraying me, but most of all I hated them for taking away the GOD I loved.

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3 Responses to “Begin at the Beginning”

  1. SR February 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Welcome Home! I too am a convert and becoming Catholic, has been the greatest blessing of my life. How it changed me! That is what it is all about. Again welcome home and God Bless, SR

  2. SR February 27, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    I wanted to come back and respond regarding the “many different gods,” and “feeling perky.” The one god you spoke of the “curse god” I know all too well. I have not heard that expression from one Catholic, and it has been 8 years. I still hear it from the “few” Protestant friends I have left. Like if someone hurts them, then that person gets sick, it is God. Never mind there is a flu bug going all over town>) That sort of thing. All I have ever heard from the Church is, “God loves me.”

    The one thing I found so freeing about the Church, was I was allowed to “feel” like I was truly feeling. If I was hurt, I was hurt, mad then I was mad, sad then I was sad. I will never forget in confession I was pouring my heart out, because I was so ashamed of these “feelings” and the Priest said, “Why are you sorry for feeling human?” I was sorry, because I as you, had been taught that was wrong. You will find many things and have a lot of help to get you through these moments. God Bless, SR

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