During Lent, I will be sharing the conversion stories of some of my friends and fellow bloggers. My husband’s conversion story was instrumental in my own conversion to the Catholic faith, and I find it intriguing to see what paths bring others to the Church. I hope these stories will offer some food for thought about the Catholic Church and what faith means. Today, relationship blogger Amy Thomas from Passionate Purpose is sharing her story.
I was raised as a Protestant. I am so grateful and thankful for the loving foundation in Christianity that my parents laid. When I look back on my upbringing, I recall it as mostly a positive experience. One of the holiest men I have ever known was our pastor. For nearly all of my most important early life events, he was an active participant: my baptism, my marriage, and the blessing of our first daughter. When asked who was a major player in my religious formation, I always say his name. He is such a good, loving, Christ-like man and I am blessed to know him.
During my childhood, the only exposure I had to Catholicism was through my best friend, Annie. Every once in a while, when I spent the night at her house on Saturday, I would attend Mass with her family the following morning. It seemed to me, as a young child, that Catholics liked to exercise—I had a hard time keeping up with all the kneeling, standing, and sitting.
I didn’t get too involved as I was told that Catholics were a cult, that they worshiped Mary and statues, and that they didn’t let their people read the Bible. I didn’t fully understand these things, but through idea osmosis, I adopted these beliefs. But God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
At 21 years old, I deemed myself all wise in Protestant and Catholic departments. I believed there was nothing new anyone could teach me—I knew all. Yet “if any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18).
So I went and fell in love with a Catholic. When we were first together, I gave it no thought. In college, both of us had fallen away from going to church and we didn’t really speak about it much, so it was a non-factor until we married. Having our daughter started to change our lukewarm hearts and we felt the need to go to church.
But what church to go to? Dustin wanted to remain Catholic, I wanted to remain Protestant. And so we fought. Correction–I fought. I spewed out all the things I thought were true about the Catholic Church and he remained calm, patient, and loving. He countered every single one of my baseless untruths. Soon, there was nothing I could say. He had an answer for everything. I was so frustrated, but I refused to concede. That would mean I was wrong. That would mean I had believed in untruths and that thought was humiliating. Pride is a strong sin.
So we tried church shopping. One week we would go to a Protestant church, the next week a Catholic church. This grew old quickly. Eventually, I made a deal with Dustin, since it was so important to him that he remain Catholic. I agreed that we could attend a Catholic Church, but I would under no condition convert. So in Ohio, we started going to St. Helen’s.
It took nine years into our marriage for me to desire to become Catholic. Believe me, the desire became overwhelming. Never once did Dustin ask or pressure me to convert. The changing of my heart came slowly, but now looking back I can see how little-by-little God chipped away at the hard barrier around my heart.
I learned everything I had once believed about Catholicism was wrong. Sadly, I had never taken the time to really explore the truth. I had just gone along with the tidbits of misinformation I had picked up in my life. It was a very real lesson in the importance of striving to search for truth. It was embarrassing to know that I had been so very wrong, but I am grateful for the humbling experience.
There are three main reasons I wanted to become Catholic:
1. It is the first Church—the Church Jesus built upon Peter. The history is there and I can’t dispute it. If this is The Church founded by the apostles at the very beginning, then that is where I want to be. The history is rich, intriguing, mysterious, and supernatural. Again and again, I am left in awe as I continue to explore the only Christian church that has been around for over 2,000 years.
2. It has ignited a flame in me. The beauty of Catholicism has brought me closer to Jesus in numerous ways. Never before have I engaged myself in a relationship with Jesus to this degree. I see now that I cannot simply limit this relationship to Sunday mornings at church. Where once I thought the call to holiness was lame and outdated, I realize that it is God’s will for my life. It is the greatest challenge in this life and it gives purpose.
3. The Eucharist. Mass is not about the homily. It’s not about the singing. It’s not about who’s there or who’s doing what. It’s all about that moment that I come forward and get to be united with Him. It provides my strength for the week. I can tell when I have missed it. It is why, when on vacation, I cannot miss church. When I was a Protestant, attending a Catholic Church, I couldn’t partake in it and I longed to receive it. There is a difference. Trust me, as a Protestant who used to receive communion as a symbolic gesture, to a Catholic who now receives it as the body and blood of Jesus, there is a difference. It is supernatural, life-giving, and my food for the journey.
One of my favorite Catholic writers says often, “There is genius in Catholicism.” I couldn’t agree with him more and I am therefore compelled to share it. There are three major events in my life that have changed me for the better: the births of my children, marrying Dustin, and the day I became Catholic. So this is me dropping the veil. Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy).
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” ― Fulton J. Sheen
Amy Thomas is the founder of Passionate Purpose. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and a Master’s in Applied Behavioral Science where she focused on sexual violence crimes. She worked as a counselor/advocate at The Salvation Army Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center in Panama City, Florida. She has given talks in high schools, police departments, mental health facilities, hospitals, and churches on the topics of dating, domestic and sexual violence. As a teen, she suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of two boyfriends, which took years to overcome. She feels passionate about educating young ladies on how to have healthy, pure, and meaningful dating relationships. As the daughter of divorced parents, she also feels passionate about fostering loving, joyful, God-centered marriages.