Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Did We Get Here?

Have you ever paused in a moment of self-reflection and asked yourself, “How did I get here?”  Now I have asked myself this question simply walking into the kitchen, and you may be asking yourself at this very moment, staring incredulously at this blog post.  But all kidding aside, most of us have stopped along the road we’re traveling on and pondered the vast accumulation of choices, curveballs, wrong turns, and sucker punches that got us to where we are.  My answer to this question, as I sit here in disbelief writing a blog of all things, can be answered quite accurately with one marvelous word: God.  Without a doubt, the only reason I am here in this place and in these circumstances is because I, like you, am loved by an almighty and ever-loving God.  It is my hope that this blog will help you, someone you love, or someone you don’t even know discover Him too.  If you are already blessed enough to know Him then I hope it encourages you in your faith and gives you courage to speak and act boldly so that you might show others the way. 

To be perfectly honest with you, my life is not that terribly interesting and my conversion(or rather re-version) story is not one they are likely to make a movie about.  So who cares and why should you keep reading, right?  All too often, and with great assistance from television, we think that significant and lasting change only comes from dramatic or even traumatic events in our lives.  When we think of a conversion story, we imagine a brush with death that sent us to our knees thanking God for our very lives.  But I have come to know that God meets us where we are and in a way that is unique for each person.  Ordinary experiences can be quite extraordinary and God can do great things with the mundane.

As I said, my story is not so much a conversion but rather a reversion.  I was raised Catholic, but with poor catechesis what little faith I had dissolved easily and by the ripe old age of fourteen I considered myself an atheist.  Nevertheless, I was confirmed in the Church with the agreement that I could walk away after that if I chose...and I promptly did.

Now I'll do my best to summarize the last twenty years for you.  Did I say twenty?  Oh mercy.  Well, that cat's out of the bag anyway.  

Year followed year, and I soon was heading off to college.  I held firmly to the belief that this natural, tangible world was all there was, when we died there was simply nothing, and all people of religious faith were fools clinging to their rosy colored glasses.  Sound harsh?  Yes indeed, and I was.  Lucky for me, God is merciful and He was gradually shaping my heart to recognize Truth when the time came.  But I had a long and painful road ahead of me first.

I was already engaged when I left for college and got married the summer after my freshman year.  One could have predicted, and indeed many probably did, that this would end in disaster.  Four and a half years later I found myself doing what was in my eyes unthinkable: getting divorced.  Our society may be casual about divorce these days as some folks change spouses like they change their underwear, but I assure you, it is far more painful than you could imagine.  

Eager for a change of scene and a fresh start, I moved to Charlotte, NC where my brother had been living since he graduated college.  It was here that I met my new husband and I came alive once more.  Little did I know, this wonderful man was about to change my life in ways I couldn't possibly imagine.  No he wasn't a Christian who convinced me that God is real and loves me and so on.  Rather he showed me what it means to be loved and because of that, much later on I was able to come to know God who is love.

We had quite the whirlwind romance and fell in love and got married quickly.  Soon after that we decided to start a family and much to our surprise our first baby turned out to be two babies.  Our immense joy was soon to be accompanied by fear, however, as this turned out to be a rather difficult pregnancy.  Without going into all the many details, let's just say many times throughout the pregnancy it looked as though we would lose one or both of our precious girls.  They made their arrival two months ahead of schedule, but were remarkably healthy.  Three weeks later Emma came home and Lily followed two weeks after.

Now I can hear you thinking it: "Oh, her babies' lives were spared and now she believes in God.  How predictable!"  Sorry to disappoint, but I walked away from this miraculous event unmoved and as staunchly atheist as ever.

Fast forward three years and you find us expecting baby number three and simultaneously moving.  That's every bit as fun as it sounds.  I spent most of this pregnancy separated from my husband who was working in Wilmington, NC while we waited for our house to sell.  Again, things worked out against the odds and we managed to sell the house and find a new one just in time.  We moved just eleven days after our third baby girl, Nora, was born.

A few months later, I started looking into when Emma and Lily would start Kindergarten.  I was dismayed that because of North Carolina law they would not start until the year they turned six.  Believing, as all parents do, that my girls were far too bright to be starting school so late I began looking at schooling I could do at home with them until then.  It was this research that had me inadvertently looking at articles about, ick, homeschooling.  My brother and sister-in-law were homeschooling my nephew and I thought it was the most ridiculous idea ever.  I was convinced he would end up an ill-adjusted, under-educated sociopath(yes I was still quite harsh).  But the more I read, the more I found I was rather uneducated myself and did not understand homeschooling like I thought I did.  I continued to read and research and before I knew what was happening, I was actually considering homeschooling and discussing it with my husband.  We went back and forth on the subject for a time and then my typically indecisive husband astonished me by saying, "Well, if I had to choose, I'd say homeschool them."  That was enough for me.

Now the stage was set.  I did what is typical of me, and immediately ordered several books on homeschooling and nobody saw my face for weeks.  One of those books was about to change my life forever: Deborah Bell's Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.  I had been tolerating the author's occasional reference to her Christian faith throughout the book because I otherwise found it quite helpful.  From time to time I would sit and roll my eyes and say, "Why do these silly Christians insist on bringing their faith into EVERYTHING??  Can't they talk about a single subject without bringing it up?"  Then while meandering my way through the chapter on math, I was caught off-guard by a reference to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.  Specifically, she referred to the point he makes in the book about the necessity of making a choice about Christ.  Now I have loaned both of these books out and so you will have to settle for my paraphrasing.  Basically, either Jesus is who He says He is, or He's a bad man.  We must choose.  What we cannot do is say Christ was this great moral teacher and we should all try to be more like him.  No, He says He is the Son of God.  Either that's true or He's evil(or a third possibility Lewis mentions-a lunatic).  I sat quite bewildered at these words.  I read them over and over and over and stared at them through squinted, aggravated eyes.  Then they began to widen and I felt as if I was standing at the edge of an abyss - one false move and down you go.  Finally it dawned on me that I actually owned that book.  My brother had given it to me years before in an effort to save his stubborn heathen sister.  At the time, my marriage was circling the drain and I really wasn't interested.  But now, in the southern August heat, I knew I had to find that book.  I tore upstairs to the attic like a woman possessed and began ripping through boxes until at last I found it.

That was the beginning of the end.  If you've taken the time to read this far, I thank you.  I won't go through the rest of the details of my conversion because, let's face it, you have a life waiting for you.  But one last detail I want to make clear is this:  I didn't want this.  I wasn't looking for God and I really didn't want to know Him.  I did not put this faith on to make myself feel better like a pair of rosy colored glasses.  In fact, I was quite happy with my  life as it was and felt certain I had all my ducks in a row.  What followed that moment of revelation was the hardest experience of my life.  The Truth is not easy; it's not comfortable.  My conversion turned my entire life on its head and I had to start at the beginning like a  frightened little child.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  Don't you want to know where to sign up?  I hope you'll stayed tuned.  I hope you will consider that if I was willing to suffer through this experience then maybe, just maybe, there's something to this Christianity stuff after all.  Until next time, may God bless you.


  1. Yay Jennifer! So happy you started your blog! Congrats! I love reading conversion and reversion stories! Love your post here learning more about your story! Enjoy your blog journey! "See" you in blog land and I look forward to reading note of your posts! :).

  2. Oops! That should say I look forward to reading MORE of your posts! :)

    1. Great job Jen Jen! I think you should finish your miraculous conversion story. It is so encouraging and beautiful! Look forward to more posts!

  3. I guess former atheists make the best Catholic apologists! I just finished a book by Matt Fradd from Catholic Answers, "God, The Universe, and Everything" and it seems that way. So glad you converted and your story is so interesting. Look forward to reading more.

    1. There is something about having to fight your way through it as an adult that makes you better able to verbalize everything. As a child you can learn the Faith as the truth that it is from your parents, but as an adult it comes much harder. That being said, the most beautiful part of all of this has been watching my girls learn the Faith just like they learned to walk - just the most natural thing in the world. It has been very humbling!