A little over a year ago, I wrote my first post dealing with religion and faith. At that time, and maybe a few times since then, I made a vague reference to some things that happened in my life that led me to begin to pray and search for something more than atheism had to offer. I wasn’t really sure if I would ever share what happened as the impetus to my conversion. It might seem odd, considering all that I write about here, but I’m pretty private about certain things.
But I’ve started to think that maybe I’d like to write about my conversion story. The whole thing. So naturally, in doing so I’d need to begin at the beginning. The beginning of this story starts with a positive pregnancy test.
With each pregnancy, I have told almost no one about it besides my husband and my doctor until we get through the first trimester. Lots of people do this, I know. It allows one to avoid having to go back and tell a bunch of people about a loss if one occurs. I was fortunate, of course, in my pregnancies with my girls. I got pregnant easily and had no serious problems or complications during my pregnancies or deliveries. I am truly so blessed.
But last year, January 19th to be precise, I prayed desperately for the first time in about a decade, because I was pregnant for the fourth time, and I suspected I was starting to have a miscarriage. It was very early in my pregnancy. I think technically it would be called a chemical pregnancy, as I was only 5-6 weeks along. But I had had a whole week since learning of the pregnancy and had felt the thrill of the positive test, the anticipation of another wonderful nine months, and the excitement and joy of thinking about bringing another baby into our home. I’d had a week of dreaming of our much desired Baby #4.
And then it was gone. A couple of blood tests confirmed that I had in fact lost that little baby. I was devastated.
In RCIA, when asked what brought me to the class, I’ve alluded to this “event” that sparked my conversion obliquely (as I had here until now). One woman asked me if, when I first prayed again after so many years, I had an amazing spiritual experience. I answered her truthfully and said, “No. It was awful.”
And it was. After years of not praying and not believing, in that desperate moment of simply praying “Please. Please. Please.” over and over, I didn’t have any sort of mystical experience. I didn’t notice any experience of God, because my prayer was almost a reflexive response in that moment, and I was certainly not looking for Him right then.
It wasn’t until a while later that I was able to look past my sadness about our loss and actually reflect on the surprising fact that I had prayed. It wasn’t an elaborate or even intentional prayer. But I had to acknowledge that when the going got really tough, when things were at their worst, I prayed. Though I supposedly didn’t believe in God, I prayed. Though I didn’t pray again and certainly didn’t start truly believing right away, I. had. prayed.
I don’t think I really thought too much more about it until over a month after the fact. Then my world was shaken up again.
My husband lost his voice and was having some difficulty breathing. This happened in late February. At first it just seemed like regular old laryngitis, at least to me, because the girls and I had colds. So I figured he did too. But it didn’t go away. He could barely speak, and I got scared. I can look back now and say that God was probably intervening in my family to wake us up and bring us near to Him. But at the time, it pretty much just sucked.
This is when I started to pray again. Not frequently, but a few times. My husband scheduled some appointments to find out what was happening. I was afraid that he had some sort of cancer, and I prayed as hard as I knew how to. We got good news and bad news from the results of his various tests and scans. Good news: he did not have any evidence of cancer. Bad news: his right vocal cord was paralyzed. And we didn’t really know why, or when or even if it would recover.
He couldn’t yell or speak loudly. He could barely speak at all and not without discomfort. He had a hard time exercising because he got out of breath easily. It was very difficult for him to read books to the girls and he definitely could not make many of the funny voices he and the girls enjoyed when playing. He couldn’t sing.
He said he wanted to start going to church. He was not pushing me to go, and would have gone by himself if I had not wanted to. But I said okay. I felt very unsure about it. I wrote this post. I remember saying to my husband that I figured there probably was a God, but that I thought the Jesus-as-the-Son-of-God story was totally unbelievable. I started thinking about where we would go. I was not really interested in going to a Catholic church, but my husband was raised Catholic, so that seemed to make the most sense. Knowing that Super Friend is also Catholic, I asked her where her family goes and why. We decided to go to the same place. On St. Patrick’s Day last year, we went to church for the first time.
On the way home, my husband went through the drive-through of Starbucks and ordered me a coffee. We kept going to church each week and he kept getting me coffee, even though it was very difficult for him to project his voice well enough to be understood over the drive-through speaker. I think it was his way of setting up a positive contingency for me. Like a reward system for going to church! I would have gone either way of course, but it makes me chuckle in retrospect, that he was trying to do something to maintain my motivation.
Turned out I liked going to church, though I still wasn’t sure that I really believed in much of the teachings of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. But I was reading and learning as much as I could on the subject. I was researching the Catholic Church’s position on various issues one night when I read something that made me feel sick to my stomach. I’ll skip the details here, but it caused me to think that I was absolutely not going to go to the Catholic church anymore. Period.
And here’s where things got really interesting (for me anyway). I was really upset to think that I would have to find another church. Though I really hadn’t wanted to go to a Catholic church, I had come to like ours, and to enjoy the Catholic service. I was truly surprised to find that I actually liked the Catholic Church.
At that time I didn’t agree with many of the teachings of the Church, and I still didn’t hold many specific Christian beliefs, but I didn’t want to stop going to the Catholic services, and that was something. I spoke to my husband about my concerns, and my problem with the Church was resolved, for a while. So we did continue to go to Mass.
Around that time I began praying more regularly, mostly for my husband’s voice to come back. I felt kind of weird doing it, but I did it anyway. I still didn’t have any desire to become Catholic myself. But that’s the next part of the story. To be continued…
Find part two HERE.