It was a leisurely afternoon at the mall, one where I didn’t have any specific destination but did have Christmas money to burn. (Thanks, Mom!) So maybe it was because I had nowhere in particular to be. Maybe it was because God knew I was just killing time. But when I stopped for that quiet “excuse me,” I knew I was in for an adventure.
“Do you believe in God?” she asked.
I’d just started to refocus on my studies. I’d missed church the week prior, and had been slacking off in my reading. But I’d gone to Mass that day. I’d finally delved into my pile of “to-reads” from RCIA, including those Bible books I’d never delved into before.
“Yes,” I replied, and because that didn’t feel like enough, I added, “I’m Catholic.”
What an oddity, to feel so separated from everything (remember the impostor syndrome?) and yet so confident in that declaration. I’ll admit, I expected her to have a negative reaction. But it didn’t deter her. Perhaps that’s why I stood in the middle of the mall on a Sunday afternoon and continued talking to her: I admired her drive. I admired what she was trying to do, even if we didn’t agree on things. It was enjoyable, especially when we learned we’d both come from the Baptist church. We’d gone in completely different directions—she was trying to convert people to some new-age, apocalyptic church—but I respect that we were both seeking Truth.
She tried to convince me that her church was the true church, and I did the same. She presented Biblical evidence, and I shared my own. It wasn’t a debate. For the first time, I had this sort of conversation and didn’t feel personally attacked. When she invited me to Bible study, I politely declined.
I’ll admit this straight out: I’m not confident. I’m defensive. I cry when I think people are maybe being mean to me. But this? Despite my weaknesses—and God knows how weak I can be—I walked away from that conversation pretty okay. I can’t pretend to know anything about other people’s experiences. I don’t understand why she was so confident about a church that was so off the mark. But for me? That wasn’t my own confidence. “Do you believe in God?” she’d asked. Sure. But belief isn’t all there is. It’s like… in that moment, I was finally working with God rather than trying to convince someone that I was right. That’s something more powerful than anything I’ll ever understand. I only pray that she, too, will understand that one day.