For a couple of years now, I have known Jeff. He and my knight were dragged into the hand bell choir a year and a half ago by their wives at our parish and they both have been great sports ever since. This year Jeff is coming "home" and I knew most of his conversion story, but wanted him to share it on the Pillars as a guest. So, without further ado, heeeeeere's Jeff....with Part 1, by the way!
Conversion Story, part I: The Decision
I am different. Not odd, but different. My decision to convert has been driven by this fundamental fact. Okay, maybe different isn’t quite the right word, but I think it fits the best.
I grew up in a non-active Methodist family (parents were raised Methodist, but were not active in any local churches), and had the moral foundations laid, but it was not until sometime in High School that I actually started going to church – mostly for the sake of my grandmother, who had recently moved into the area (and the lunch she would take my cousin and I for afterwards – hey, I was young!). I also was active in Royal Rangers (a Christian scouting group, hosted by the local AofG church).
I graduated from High School in 1994, and started college that fall, where I did the “collegy” thing: going to church when I would go home, or periodically with a girl I was going out with. That continued, with a very high attendance at the Church of St. Mattress, for the next five years.
I met my (late) wife in 1999, during a Theatre class. She was still a freshman, and I was in my third senior year (an honestly innocent story, but for another time). She was Catholic. I knew nothing of Catholicism (rites, rituals, etc.) at the time. I had heard some comments from people, but not enough to form any bias or negative opinions about the church. Simply, I was uninformed.
As we dated (and eventually married), I learned. After a service at the church I “grew up in”, she made the comment that services at the two were virtually the same. Different, but similar. We would go to Mass when we could, and we would talk about things at home.
Through our conversations, I found the words to articulate my disposition on the matter of “denominations in Christianity”, and realized that, based on my personal beliefs, I was already a “lapse Catholic”. I just wasn’t confirmed, and I was okay with that.
But like I said, I am different. I had no bias, and I was willing to learn. I was the “mixed” half of a “mixed-marriage”, and I was happy in that fact. But things change, and I found that out in a severe way.
My wife died from a pulmonary embolism. During the ambulance ride to the hospital, I did one of the few things that I felt I could do: I recited the “Our Father” over and over, repeating it almost a dozen times over the twenty minute ride. I kept dwelling on the words “thy will be done”. Despite my grief, I was at peace. During the funeral, I made the decision to convert, and voiced it during the Easter Vigil.
I’m doing it for my late wife, and for her family. I’m doing it for the peace that I found, through grief, with the thought that with joy, the peace will grow stronger. I’m doing it because I’ve become more Catholic then Methodist, and can’t see going back.
Teaser: Next week: Part 2, The Journey
Jeff has his own blog called, Echoes Americana