When the priest learns you’re a reader (basically by trade), you’re in trouble. You can almost see the list of books scrolling through his mind at that moment, not wanting to bombard you with too much right away. Even though you would read that endless list of books. (Don’t tell him I said that. Not yet…)
After narrowing down the endless options—and after the Bible itself—he offered Scott & Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. A conversion story? Of course I’m going to be into this, doubly so because they were previously anti-Catholic, Bible-thumping Evangelicals.
We love telling our conversion stories. We love sharing how “stupid” we were, or the depths of our grief before coming to God. And we love hearing them, too, because it brings a sense of pride. Here are our friends, finally learning the truth. But I’m reading this book, and I’m also laughing. Because each conversion story is different, with the spectrum of human experience and emotion, but they’re also all the same.
future convert: Let me share this awesome discovery I made!
Catholic friend: …that is literally what the Church teaches.
future convert: NO IT’S NOT
I’m only halfway through this book. I haven’t even reached their conversion yet. But I’m already so into this. Because it’s their unique story, with all their unique doubts and struggles… but it’s also so, so familiar.
But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came.
There are moments that the crystal clarity of God’s purpose knocks you in the head. When you’re driving home late at night, the radio off because there’s nothing good on anyway, and He drops everything on you at once: The seemingly random way you’ve come to this point. The reason for things that have happened. The revelation of why these things didn’t turn out the way you had planned (as if you really had any say).
He reveals a glimpse of the truth. It’s exciting and scary, and you don’t know how it’ll work, but you’re going to trust it.
And then, almost instantaneously, that clarity is clouded over.
It could be a lingering doubt that never quite went away. Or a completely unrelated thing a friend said to you. Or just a solitary sleepless night, wandering the house because it’s better than lying in bed wide awake.
It was a glorious time when the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity. “Go build your temple!” the king had said, and they rushed into Jerusalem to glorify God. But, wait, this edict says you can’t build anything. And now foreigners want to help. We can’t let the impure into our holy temple. Hey, God, when in the world can we rebuild the temple? Isn’t this what You want?
We wait for the light, but darkness envelops. Yes, the darkness makes the forthcoming light so much brighter. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier, when we’re literally crying to him in the dark. But that’s part of the process, too. The light will come, and in our continual worship and devotion He will continue to guide us toward it.
The other day, I asked my cousin if he remembered what church I was baptized in.
(I realize I could ask my parents, but I’m not ready to tell them why this is relevant…)
He didn’t know, which I suspected, since he was in high school at the time. But what he remembered instead surprised me, because for a moment I’d forgotten who my godmother was—his mother.
I can picture so clearly my mother holding you at the altar.
After you were born, the conversation of godmother came up and your grandmother and mother just said, “well, it’s got to be Aunt E!” My mom was already in her late 50s and I remember her just beaming at the church!
We weren’t close to that side of the family growing up, and regrettably I couldn’t make the funeral when she passed away during my college years. But Aunt Edith was a good, honest soul. I may not have been raised in the Church. I may be doing this much, much later than most. But I still feel like she’s guiding me through it. She very well may be.
One day I’ll discover what church it was, and I’ll visit again. And I’ll picture Aunt Edith up there with my parents, and with me, beginning this journey long before I even knew I’d be taking it.