Saturday, May 16, 2009

Conversion?

A friend wrote me saying, “I sometimes think that . . . the Father speaks to us constantly, and if we were to listen but a hundredth of the time, we might all be Schweitzers or Mother Teresas.”

I agree.

God is the creator of possibilities. The Father’s plans are His own, permeated with His inspiration, and not based on our expected outcomes. Should we stop our narcissistic inner dialogue we might hear His voice, as did the prophet Isaiah. Recorded in the fifty-fifth chapter of his prophecy, God announced, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (verses 8-9)

I’d memorized those words in the 1990’s, but I was ignorant of their personal scope. How painless it was for me to recite those phrases in Isaiah. Confident in my own sanctity, I heard the distant ring of metal upon metal, the sharp-edged blade of the Holy Scriptures slicing through the dross of the secular world. However, I never supposed that the virtuous blade needed to cut into my flesh and remove the calcified dross that covered my soul.

The living, active, word of God cuts through our miasma of self-absorption and accomplishes His will. The Lord does things in His time, for His reasons, and according to His plan. However, egotist that I am, I want it to be about my time, and for my reasons. All of God’s goodness should be a generous gift to me. For decades, this delusion reigned in my heart until the events I have written about in this blog captured my attention. Through those events, Jesus opened my eyes and ears to perceive Him anew.

My odyssey culminated in December.

The last month of 2006 found me slowly recovering health. I remember that December as a blur punctuated by trips to the doctor. It was a time of intense sadness as well. Two days after Christmas, Rich’s step-dad lay in a coma after massive heart failure. Dad had been so kind to me and so loving to our children. It was a very upsetting time. We were grieved for Rich’s mom and for our children who were then spending the holiday with Rich’s parents.

When we had last visited Rich’s parents during the preceding September, Rich’s conversion had become an enormous element of discord with his parents. Afterward, we decided not to visit them during the upcoming Christmas holiday to allow our children to visit their grandparents without what we expected would be further strife.

But when Dad died, we assembled as a family for the funeral to honor his life. It was the first family reunion since Rich entered the Catholic Church. Despite our grief, the deep ties of family strengthened as we rallied around Mom in her need.

And thus ends the saga of 2005-2007 I have posted here.

Yet some still wonder — did I convert?

Songwriter Andre Crouch wrote, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.” St. Faustina received similar inspiration from Jesus, who directed her to proclaim the message, “Jesus I trust in you.”

The lesson about trusting in Messiah Jesus best illustrates the interior lessons I’ve learned.

This blog was not about my conversion from a Protestant to a Catholic. Rather, it examined my interior journey, written as it unfolded, with all the ugly and beautiful parts as I saw them.

The twenty-four months following Rich’s profession as a Catholic were, for me, an intense period of inner reflection with Jesus. During that time, Christ the Lord indicated where I should live: beneath the cross, where He showed me His great suffering for my sin. Jesus instructed how I should speak: with few words, directed by love, that I might learn to listen and dwell more closely to His heart. My Lord structured where and how I should go: to remain at my husband’s side, subject to guidance of Church Rules, that I might learn humility through the things I might suffer. Lovingly, Jesus sent me companions such as Oswald Chambers, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Catherine of Siena, St. John of the Cross. Their words and reflections illuminated my understanding and reminded to keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus.

One Sunday, after I had been writing for a few months, a parishioner stopped me at church. She told me how much these blog posts encouraged her. What had been of importance to her was that although I faced difficulties, “You did not lose your faith.”

I believe I did not lose my faith because my Savior held me firmly. His hand rested upon my shoulder as He walked me through the turmoil, whispering in my ear how much He loved me. And I listened. From the Sacred heart of Jesus, I learned true conversion is one of a right-seeing heart.

What might seem a random series of incidents and reflections published on this blog has come to an end. As one person commented to one of my posts that I really don’t have much to complain about.

I agree.

There are more compelling tales of difficulty than mine, of others who are more challenged -- physically and spiritually – and who face greater and disheartening difficulties than those I have faced.

As to conversion, yes, I did convert. I converted from a self-satisfied, self-centered, bigoted Christian who experienced the body of Christ in a limited way, to a meeker, hopefully more child-like Christian who ever yearns to listen to the Trinity with the ears of my heart. I converted to a Christian who desires only to gaze continually toward my savior, Jesus the Messiah. Moreover, when I hang back in fear or fall into sin, my heart’s desire is to be as a toddler who rushes on tottering feet to grab hold of the cross, thankful the Messiah is there to forgive, pick me up, and renew my life in Him.

Initially, I had not wanted to share the saga of my journey, even though others urged me to do so. What good would it do? I asked myself. How could I share experiences that mystified me and left me perplexed and full of questions? Who was I that I had anything to say? The past is the past, and I just wanted to move on and let it be.

Then, in the summer of 2007, after months of hearing the Holy Spirit’s call in homilies, and through the Holy Scriptures, I gave in. I remember walking into our kitchen and declaring to my husband that I was going to write a blog. I asked him if he could help me think of a name for it. Without missing a beat he said, “Call it, Protestant and Catholic at Critical Mass.”

1 comment:

NC Sue said...

Your description of the conversion experience resonated with me, although I described in somewhat differently in my blog post at http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/2009/05/meatless-but-with-twist.html. I think, though, we're headed in the same direction.

Peace,

NCSue