Caterpillar: My Conversion Story — Part 1

I was born and raised Mormon. Well, I was born into a Mormon family anyway. I do remember practicing the religion. My family was even “sealed in the temple.” But my parents got divorced when I was in 3rd grade and things changed. The four youngest kids soon after went to live with my dad. I imagine a man raising children alone is quite difficult. We were VERY different from other families, even the divorced ones. We went to the Mormon Church once after moving in with dad and we did not feel accepted. Even though I never went back I did not stop identifying myself as Mormon.

(I believed because I was told to believe)

When I was 19 a friend took me to a Four Square Gospel church. I was taught about the end times and the Rapture. They had an altar call and I responded. I asked Jesus into my heart and became “born again.” I did not feel any different. I got baptized. I did not feel any different. I have always struggled with being happy. I would say I was borderline depressed my whole life. I never had many friends and I didn’t much like people. I was not finding any answers in this church. My belief in God and understanding of Him was very shallow. I tried to read the Bible and even do bible studies, but I could not understand anything really. I NEVER thought of life as a gift. I thought it was cruel to bring life into this horrible evil world. I never thanked God for life. I would thank Him for salvation now but not life! I felt to never have been born would have been better.

(Now I believed because I was AFRAID not to).

I got married at 20, had a baby at 21, and got divorced at 26. I was fairly bitter after my divorce and really began to not like people. Soon I met and began dating my current husband Paul. By this time I had changed Protestant churches many times. My understanding of God and religion was still almost nonexistent. I had come around however from my anti-Catholic beliefs to understand Catholics were Christian too. So after Paul and I married in 1999 I knew he would not leave the Catholic Church, so I entered RCIA in the fall of 2000. But first I had my tubes tied, permanent sterilization; because I still believed life was horrible! So why would I participate in bringing life into the world? I could be happy at times but it never lasted.

I had the most amazing RCIA teachers! They taught us all so well with so much love, patience, and mercy. I really, really understood that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ established. I now understood with my brain (with reason) so I converted. We had to wait on annulments before I could enter the Church. Our annulments were granted in 2001 and I entered the church summer 2002.

(Now I believed because I understood the truth with my reason.)

Now I’m in my 30’s living life. I know I belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I am married. I have a few friends. I don’t need any more. I still struggle with depression and I still don’t like most people. I go to Mass every Sunday and most holy days. I go to confession at least once a year. I read a book on spiritual growth maybe once every year. I even became a lector. I still leave church out the side door after mass and speak to as few people as possible. Sometimes Paul and I even take separate cars so he can stay and talk to people. Because I get it now with my brain and not my heart, it becomes almost like I created God with my mind. Like I can choose what to believe and what not to believe. I didn't have to face what I thought about birth control because it was a non-issue for me. There isn’t any real authority over me other than me. I am “in control." I am still not happy.

I did manage to grow a little and get closer to God in a way. Or maybe I was just still seeking happiness and thought perhaps following the Church’s teachings more I can find it. So in 2008 I had surgery to reverse my tubal ligation. One year later my Beautiful Joey was born. I can say that now but the truth is I had already changed my mind back to not wanting to bring life into this world but I was already pregnant. I did not feel any connection with Joey until he was born. I struggled the whole pregnancy with depression. I did not even set up a nursery until a few weeks before his arrival. Thank God I had much love for Joey after his birth but I still had not found happiness. I still prayed and practiced my religion but it was not real to me. Praying was empty, as if I was just putting words into the wind.

Here is a diagram of who I am now (taken from my journal):

I had faith, I believed, but I had no works. I was not yet a new creature in Christ. 

But someone will say, 'you have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? (James 2:18-22.)
Cindy Montanarella