Reflection 1: The Radical 'Yes!'
What happens when you decide to listen to that little Voice whispering to your heart? That little gentle nudge on your mind that says, ‘Hey! You there! I want to talk with you about something I know you’re going to enjoy!’ Do you ignore it or do you respond with, ‘Go on...’?
For me, it didn’t take a whole lot, but I’ve always been a pretty curious person all my life. So, when that Voice came to me, and when He said, ‘Hey, I want to talk with you, let’s discuss some things that’re really going to make you excited!’ I sat down with an open mind and a heart flung wide open and ready to learn. I don’t regret anything at all about this.
In the articles following this one, I’m going to take apart things I’ve learnt and I’m going to reflect on them.
At the time of this writing (April 2019), I’m watching a video on FORMED about the topic of Christianity. People being interviewed on a question of, ‘What would you give up to become a Catholic?’ It was nestled in my e-mail and I have been sitting on that for a few days. Today, I figured I’d open it and watch it.
This is person after person talking about transitioning from Atheism to Catholicism. Thanks be to God that they listened to His Voice, too, when He reached out at just that right moment to get their attention!
On a number of occasions, I’ve heard stories from my fellow convert friends, about being former Protestants, former Agnostics, and the like, and they got curious about Catholicism and what the Mass was really about. For a lot of my friends, I’ve heard people in their lives - friends, family members - had turned on them, even went so far as to claim that person was ‘dead to them.’ Ouch.
Hearing all these stories, it made me grateful for the fact that I was raised to have an open mind and a curiosity for what’s out there that’s bigger than we are here on this little planet hurtling through space. I can’t help but reflect on my Mormon upbringing from time to time, as sort of a compare-and-contrast thing. Especially when I’m writing about my present situation and when I’m engaging in discussion with fellow Catholics about those little ‘Aha!’ moments when studying the Bible together after Mass, or even during the Scrutinies as my fellow Elect and I were coming through RCIA to be received into the Church and the full Family of God this Easter.
The Scrutinies really opened my eyes a lot to my own life, my own upbringing and my own understanding of how I gauge things in terms of where I am versus where God is. An emotional temperature gauging, if you will.
When I decided back in 1998 to explore Catholicism, I didn’t have to really ‘give up’ anything. I'm pretty fortunate that for the most part there wasn't really any backlash when I decided to become a Catholic. Now, when I was 17, that would've been a really different story, but that's because I was raised by a monster and my mother. Mom wouldn't have cared either way, but the old man would've hit the ceiling! As in, I had to sneak to go speak to the priest back home (our house was just a few yards away from the town's only parish, and back in my hometown, it's so small you could sneeze on one end of town and in ten minutes on the opposite end of town you're dying of Herpaghonasyphillaids and have seconds to live!)... Had he found out I had stopped by to talk to the priest... I guarantee you, I'd be grounded for the rest of the time I lived there (no kidding). All he'd have had to do was walk outside and look to his left and he'd have seen me. Thanks be to God, even now, that he didn't. Just shows me, personally, how fiercely loved I really am, that God orchestrated that to work out the way it did…
I’m grateful, honestly, that none of my family members or friends have turned their backs on me. I’m noticing that there’s a vast chasm between us in some very sensitive places - namely the source of my deepest joy: the Church - but I don’t not have contact with people I’ve had contact with because of this difference of opinion, as it were.
The thing is, if I were approached now with, ‘If you want to be Catholic, you have to give up [whatever ‘superimportantthingorperson]. Will you do it?’ Honestly? Yes. Yes, I would. There’s a lot of things I’ve already offered up as a sacrifice and I am not bothered about doing it again a million times over.
When I was Mormon, I hadn’t touched coffee a once. I didn’t until AFTER I had left their organization, because that was against the rules, right? So, that was easy for me (even though it smelled tasty, I didn’t dare touch it). It was also easy for me to not smoke or do anything illicit in terms of pot or anything heavier like heroin or meth. I’ve experimented since having left the Mormons, both with caffeine and with pot, but nothing heavier than that. I’ve even drank (shock! Surprise! Scandal!). Now that there’s more and more coming to light for me about what the Lord prescribes for us in terms of, ‘Do this, don’t touch that,’ I’m finding that while it’s still pretty difficult, the discipline that’s there is incredibly rewarding because I can reach out to God and say, ‘I wanna do this, though!!!’ and I know that He’s there with a gentle reminder that, ‘I know that, Daughter, but you need to remember that those things are not what I want for you, Myself. What you need to remember and realize is the fact that these rules are in place for your safety and well-being. Not because I am being some kind of hater of fun or something like that.’
It’s taken a lot of research, a lot of stubbornness of will and intellect (sometimes misused on my part!), but at the end of this Lenten season (2019), I am excited to say that I’ve not only given the radical ‘Yes, Lord!’ and meant it, but He has provided a way for me to be able to enter fully into His family. I cannot wait!