- Religion and Philosophy
A Prodigal daughter lost in the world: Conversion Story, Part 2
I'm the youngest of 5 children. Dad was a truck driver, Mom a nurse. Neither was raised Catholic but in the late 60s Mom had a conversion experience of her own, entering the church in 1970 and I was born in 1972. She had my older siblings and I all baptized together. Dad himself, after overcoming his own objections to Mom's conversion, was baptized in 1974. I attended our local Catholic grade school and went to public school from 7th grade on. Growing up, I was taught the basics of our faith, however, I was not taught well. I went to Mass every week and on holy days. I attended a couple of week long retreats in high school that for a time, woke me up but the fire soon died out after I returned home. So I headed off to college and slowly but surely, I fell away from any practice of my faith. Let me emphasize, though I wasn't practiciing my faith, I never left it to attend any other churches; the reason being, I knew somewhere deep in my heart that the Catholic Church was the church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ and if I went to another church, I would know something was missing. I wasn't that the church had left me, I had left it. I believe it was a special grace from God that kept me from leaving. The years went on and I graduated from college in 1995, moved away for a job and returned less than a year later. I quickly, as anyone in their 20s would, got wrapped up in the party culture of the local bar scene. I went out with my friends on a regular basis, trying, sadly, to find that guy of my dreams in one of those local establishments. Yes, we did have some fun times, there is no disputing that, however, something bothered me; something kept tugging at my heart that this whole lifestyle, in the end, wasn't going to make me happy. Admittedly, I had bought into what the world was selling me and I kept engaging in unchaste behavior, thinking, this time it will work, this time, with this guy, it will be different; he really likes me, he says so, if I just hook up with him tonight and give him what he wants he'll fall in love with me. It was all so empty, all so full of alcohol-fueled late-nite promises that were never kept. There's a phrase out there that says insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? This, sadly, was me.
Time went on and as we approached the year 2000, my life started to change, little by little. My girlfriends - the ones I had partied with much of the last 4 years - suddenly and almost inexplicably moved on. They all met boyfriends who eventually became husbands and they were no longer around. I was, almost in an instant it seemed, alone. The emptiness overwhelmed me and I was depressed, almost to the point of suicide, though it was never a serious option, it was part of the struggle I was having. It was a rough time, that summer of 2000, but I hung on, thanks be to God! One night I went to Barnes and Noble, bored and just wanting to look around, plus I was avoiding a boring, empty evening at home. I ended up in the religion section where my eyes happened to fall on a display of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I did not have a copy (never thinking to buy one back when I worked for B&N) and it suddenly occured to me that I needed to buy one, perhaps study up a bit even though I already knew everything I needed to know about Catholicism (anyone hear God laughing just now? I sure did) and I grabbed it and took it up to purchase. The girl at the register noted my purchase and I remember her asking me if I was a Catholic. Yes, I muttered and she said she was too - I think I said something about not having a copy of the catechism or something and she said something else I can't recall, however her words had hit me - are you a Catholic? What was my answer? Yes, but am I really? I got home and I started reading, a little at a time. I became more interested as I kept reading, and as the fall of 2000 approached, I decided I was going to take an RCIA class at one of our local parishes, just so that I could learn more about my faith. Little did I know, as I made my plans to start RCIA at St. Mary's in September, what God had in store for me....