Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Conversion Story

I suppose the best way to start out would be to tell my conversion story, how it is I came to be Catholic in the first place. It was not an easy road! Be warned...this will be long!

I was raised in the Church of Christ and my faith was always very important to me, my parents instilled in me a love of truth and a great respect for God's word. I'll give a quick explanation of the beliefs of the Church of Christ (CoC) for those who don't know them. They are definitely a bible church, meaning their only resource and only source of "authority" is the bible. They believe if you are truly open to the Holy Spirit, you will not misinterpret the Bible. Basic beliefs are that you must hear the word (the Bible), believe the word, confess that Jesus is the son of God, repent of your sins, and then be baptized. Basically, this HAS to be chronologically done (which is why they don't believe babies can be baptized, they think it has to be your choice.) They don't use instruments in service because they say the Bible doesn't say to, women cannot be preachers (though they are encouraged to spread the word to friends, etc) and they can't even do a reading because the Bible says women are to be silent during worship. They DON'T believe once saved always saved, they believe (as Catholics do) that once you are baptized you are a Christian, but you can still fall away from the Church and be lost. When you sin, you must confess to God your sins and repent, otherwise you're in trouble. They do have communion every Sunday, Welch's grape juice and crackers, basically, as a symbolic remembrance of Christ's death. They see drinking alcohol, dancing, and gambling as grave sins that should all be completely avoided. As far as the structure of the organization itself, there is NO kind of "CoC convention" or head of the CoC, they are very clear about that. They see each congregation as its own church, autonomous, which has elders and deacons who make decisions about certain things. They are very wary of having a physical organization because they think this somehow undermines God's plan for the Church, which is one of the BIG issues they have with the Catholic Church being a "manmade organization." Also, they don't call themselves protestant because they believe they are really THE Church that God put on the earth that we see in the Bible. They just believe that for the couple thousand years you don't hear about them, they were just hiding. But basically they say the Catholic Church broke away from THEM 2000 years ago, and since the Bible says not many will enter the Kingdom of God, this, for them, explains their extremely small numbers in proportion to the rest of the world.

So this is the mindset in which I was raised. All of my friends who were not CoC were basically going to Hell unless I converted them, so since I can remember I've had the biggest weight on my shoulders...I needed to save the world! In Sunday school we were taught what verses to tell Baptists to show them the error of their ways (faith without works is dead, etc) and what verses to show Catholics as well (Call NO man father!!). We were taught only to argue with Bible verses, because we needed to use God's words, not our own, to show people where they are wrong. Basically...the Bible is the be all and do all of their faith. If you tried to use reason, or some document from a mere man, a member of the CoC simply would not listen because it is not the Bible.

Now onto my actual conversion...For some reason (I now believe it was part of God's amazing plan for me) I was always interested in the French culture. I loved the language, and I just had a great interest in learning more and more about it. When I was about 14, the internet was just starting to boom and I was able to research about France, and with the explosion of chatrooms, I could even talk to French people!! It was great, and my Mom's rule was that if I was on the internet, I had to be doing something productive, learning, etc. So I would talk to French people in French, it was great fun. When I was about 16, I met a French guy named Camille in one of these chatrooms. We hit it off instantly and from then on we talked to each other almost every day. It was so strange, despite our completely different backgrounds, we were SO alike in our values, in our goals for life, in so many things, our ideas on dating (we both felt dating was ultimately to find a spouse, so if a person was not marriage material it was pointless to date them). We talked almost every day as much as possible, and soon came to care a great deal for each other. Before long, the issue of religion came up, and I dreaded that day so much, because I knew that I would never marry someone that was not a member of my church, and I knew the time was coming that I would have to tell him about my views on Catholics, etc (I knew he was Catholic, but was hoping he wasn’t a very strong one!) I hate confrontation, I avoid it like the plague! But it was inevitable, and so our religious discussions began. Camille was so passionate about the Catholic Church, and he explained things to me in such a way that (heaven forbid!) it didn’t sound like the evil manmade institution I thought it was. I was starting to feel guilty because I thought I was losing faith in God by questioning my church. My goal, though, was still to convert Camille to my religion.

Mind you, I was still a minor at this point,17, and he was 21, and my parents knew I had a “French friend” and soon realized what close friends we had become. We still had never met after a year and a half because he lived so far away. Camille ended up moving to Texas (from Miami, FL where he and his family had recently moved from France) and he lived with a Catholic family who owned a machine shop. He worked for them too. He was now about 4 hours away from us, so while visiting colleges we met for the first time and went to dinner with my parents. Well, despite our efforts to be reasonable and not move too fast, we both admitted we were in love with each other and couldn’t bear the thought of not getting married, but religion was so important to both of us and we were worried we would not be able to get beyond this obstacle.

It was time to choose a college, and by some “coincidence” (I believe it was the hand of God again =) a school offered me a full scholarship, and this school was about 30 minutes away from where Camille lived. After finding this out, it was fairly easy to convince my parents to let me go there (free school!) and that way I would be able to talk to Camille about religion. By this time my parents knew of my efforts to convert Camille, and had even been helping me. (The common “ritual” for a CoC girl dating someone not in the CoC is to try to convert them, and if that doesn’t work Daddy tries to convert them, and if that doesn’t work then the relationship must be stopped, period.) My parents knew my desire to do God’s will, and they had faith that I could explain “the truth” to Camille (my sisters had both converted boyfriends on numerous occasions.) So that was the plan-convert Camille!

Once I was on my own for the first time in my life, I felt ready to talk with Camille and really share my faith. The thing is, I really believed in his sincerity and love for God, I could see that he cared about the truth. I had been led to believe that if someone honestly asked God for the truth, they would find it, and that if someone was some other religion besides CoC it meant they were not sincere in their desire for truth. So it was simple, since I KNEW Camille was sincere, all I had to do was show him the truth and he would convert. Needless to say, it didn’t quite happen that way.

Being away from my parents allowed me to open my mind a little. I first started to believe that someone could be sincerely wrong, contrary to what I had been taught, and this bothered me because it didn’t seem right that someone who tried their absolute best to follow Christ would go to Hell because they were not a member of the CoC. At the same time, I was starting to realize, with the help of Camille (and of course MUCH guidance from the Holy Spirit) that I had many misconceptions about the teachings of the Catholic Church. However, I still believed the CoC was the one true Church. I simply allowed myself to look at the real teachings with an open and honest mind. After all, I was confident that I had the truth, and I was confident that even the true teachings of the Catholic Church without all the exaggerations and misconceptions were STILL wrong. So one by one, I started to examine the teachings of the Church and discuss them with Camille.

One by one I started to have to cross out my biblical arguments with the Church. I started to use my brain and think logically, and I didn’t feel like that was wrong, I felt it’s what God wanted. I prayed a LOT and asked God to show me the truth, I didn’t care what church was His, but I wanted to be in His Church. At this point I knew my parents would disapprove, so I started hiding my “progress” with Camille. I read many books by those wonderful authors of apologetics, Scott Hahn, Karl Keating, Steve Ray, etc. I read “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth” and soon after attended my first mass. Meanwhile, at school, being an English major meant studying old texts filled with allusions to the Catholic Church. I started to see the Church everywhere throughout history, in literature, in art, so much so that I could not anymore deny its importance and its amazing history.

I remember waking up one day and realizing that I no longer believed in the teachings of the CoC. Slowly, almost without even being aware of it I had started to agree with the Catholic Church issue by issue. At first, I told myself it was ok, there are always issues you agree on even with other denominations. (One of the very first issues I was convinced on was the teaching on contraception, interestingly enough!) Soon, though, I agreed on more issues with the Catholic Church than with the CoC. Furthermore, I started to see inconsistencies with the CoC teachings, I started to look at their beliefs as a whole instead of compartmentalizing them as we were taught to and realized that there were contradictions and things that just didn’t make sense. I also felt betrayed because as a child, I had been taught that our church was the church in the Bible and had been there forever, then when I became a teenager I did some research and realized that about 100 years ago some guys got together and decided to “get back to the teachings of the Bible” which was noble, but this is the first recorded instance in history of the CoC as I knew it. Yet the Catholic Church is all over the place, you can’t miss it!! That bothered me tremendously.

So all of these realizations, along with prayer, along with Camille who was constantly there for me, but never pushing me made my conversion inevitable! God had slowly guided me towards His Church, and I could no longer deny His Truth. Now, I had to prove my faith. It was time to tell my parents that I had decided to become Catholic. I’ll keep it short-I drove down to see my family, I told them my intentions, and they tried to keep me locked up in their house. They accused Camille of brainwashing me, and accused me of turning my back on God. My father told me he would have to disown me. They told me they would take away my car and not give me any money because they could not support me being Catholic in any way.

I was prepared for this kind of reaction, but it was still very hard. I literally had to run away. They had taken my car keys from me, thinking I could not go anywhere. Well I had an extra set in the car, so I went outside, told them I was going to take a walk, and ran to my car. They realized I wasn’t just going for a walk and tried to run after me. My mom got to the car and just barely opened the door, but I took off right at that moment-which made her fall down. I felt horrible, but I had to leave and get out of there. I still remember seeing my Mom's streaky handprint on the window, and feeling like it was a hand right behind me, reaching for me, trying to stop me the whole way home. For the next year or two, as I was attending RCIA classes and getting ready for my confirmation, my Dad sent me on average 5 emails a day spewing scripture, trying to convince me I was going to Hell because I had put Camille before God. I tried, at first, to discuss with my Dad, but after a year and a half of constant debates, I told him I wasn’t going to do it anymore because he wouldn’t listen to my arguments and just went in circles with his reasoning.

I was confirmed and had my first communion at the Easter Vigil in 2002, and Camille and I were married June 28, 2003 in France. My Dad and siblings did not come to the wedding, I think mostly because it was a Catholic Mass, but I'm sure the distance had something to do with it too. My Mom couldn’t bear not to be there, so she came (even though she couldn’t understand it as it was all in French!)

After things settled down a bit, and my family learned to accept the fact that I had made my choice, and that it was my choice to make, things got a bit better. My family got to know my dear husband better, and I think they saw he was not the brainwashing monster they thought he was. My Dad even apologized for some of his behavior, and since then our relationship has been much better. We even ended up moving to Austin near my family after we graduated, something we never thought would be possible with all the tension, but it has been very good. My husband and my Dad get along well now, and I live next to my grandparents. Life is good!

So, that's about it. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. I thought I wanted to write fictional stories when I was younger, but as I have gotten older I lean more and more towards writing about religion and apologetics. I would love to write a book geared towards members of the Church of Christ explaining the contradictions I was finally able to see in that faith, and at the same time tell the story of my conversion in much more detail. For now, I'll use this blog as my launch pad and hopefully begin to compile my thoughts in one place.

Phew...well if anyone actually read all of that, thanks a bunch! I feel so blessed to have the husband that I do and to belong to the Church, and I'm loving my life as a Catholic!

God Bless!

85 comments:

Janjan said...

You were very brave. Much braver than me, I'm afraid. I wish you every happiness and every blessing!

Stephanie said...

Thank you, I had a lot of help from the Big Guy Upstairs ;-) Certainly couldn't have done it without Him!

God Bless you!

Jeff Childers said...

Welcome home, from a fellow convert from the Church pf Christ!

Stephanie said...

Wow, it's Jeff Childers! I read some of your writing about the CoC during my conversion, it was a great comfort to read others who had struggled with some of the same thoughts and issues! Thanks for stopping by =)

Anonymous said...

That's an awesome story. Very interesting. I was raised cofc and have not converted to catholocism but can relate so much to much of your story especially the inconsistency of the cofc teachings. I post as Serenity432001 on the GCM and am so glad you are there and hope you post often and thanks for sharing your blog and your story.

Lisa P

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

Anonymous said...

I'm crying. Gimme' a minute to compose myself.........

(six mintues later)

Okay, I'm not Catholic, but I totally understand your story, having come from "that place" with "those parents". God gave you such strength and I'm so proud of you for taking His hand and walking through that door He opened for you.

And... I'm jealous because I'm not at a good place yet with my own parents. Like you, after preaching at me for about a year, I told them to back off.... and they did... completely. It's like I don't have a father anymore. Mom is a bit better, but she just doesn't talk about a God. Period. A difficult thing since she was who first introduced me to Him, you know?

Anyway....

Your testimony is a blessing. Keep blogging -- it is your ministry.

"Kalen"
(from the GCM boards)

Stephanie said...

Thanks Kalen! I'm so sorry to hear that the relationship with your parents has not yet healed...perhaps it will in time. I pray that God will soften their hearts!

Thanks for stopping by, and God bless!

Anonymous said...

I'm a member of the church of Christ but I feel a kind of peace when reading your story....can't really explain, but I'm glad I came across it.

Stephanie said...

I'm glad you did, too, anon! Thanks for reading =)

Flajuben said...

Dear Stephanie !
I'm so glad to read your "conversion story" !!!
God is good!!!

Did you read "Rome sweet home"?
your story remind me this testimony of presbyterians who became catholics.

God Bless you & Camille!

Stephanie said...

God is good :-) Yes I have read "Rome Sweet Home," and many of Scott Hahn's struggles were the same as my own, so it was a very helpful book!

Perry said...

Hi Stephanie,

God Bless you on your journey. I too took the roman road, starting reading about church history back in 1999 and became a catholic on Palm Sunday, 2003.

Pax,
OPerry

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Perry! I always love to hear from fellow converts =) God Bless you too!

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a former CoC turned Catholic. I always knew CoC wasn't right for me and was meant to be Catholic, so our "stories" are different, but wanted to say "hello" anyway. I entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in April 2006.

You sound very happy! God bless you!

Peace,
Margaret

Stephanie said...

Thanks for visiting, Margeret! I always love hearing from CoCers turned Catholic since there aren't many in the grand scheme of things. Congrats on coming Home, and God Bless!!

Parthenia said...

I never experienced nearly as much drama when I left the Church, but I can totally relate. I was raised by a Catholic mom and a CoC dad. They've been happily married over 36 years. My mom converted to Catholicism when she was 20, and wasn't about to convert to something else when she met my dad. I know there was lots of pressure from the rest of his family to get her to convert. They just go their separate ways on Sunday morning.
I was baptized in the CoC when I was 13 and left at 15 (21 years ago) and never looked back. In hindsight, I had it easy because my dad and mom decided my faith was my decision although my dad sure did want me to stay on his team. Church is still a topic that rarely comes up between my dad and me.
I'm glad you story also has a peaceful ending.

Stephanie said...

That's an interesting story, Parthenia, glad your parents were flexible enough to make things work and allow you to choose your own path. Thanks for stopping by, God bless!

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I read it, every word. It seemed long when I first looked at it, but before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line! I think you have a marvelous capacity for writing, and the story was well done. Keep up the good work. I plan to stop by from time to time.

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much, PA! God bless!

FloridaWife said...

Hi, Stephanie. Just wanted you to know that I read your conversion story. You showed such strength driving away with your extra set of keys!!!!! Beautiful story how you met Camille over the internet and you ultimate wedding in France.

Peace be with you always.

Stephanie said...

Thank you! :-)

Anonymous said...

hey steph... got your link from your intro to the defenders of the Catholic faith message board... just love conversion stories... mine is published on steve ray's board... did you ever read his "crossing the tiber" ... one of the best i've nad the pleasure to read

from a baptist convert (april '98) a fellow texan and a longhorn...

faithfulservant

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, faithfulservant! I actually haven't read Steve Ray's, though I've heard bits and pieces...it's one of those I've wanted to read for a long time but haven't gotten around to it yet!

Hook 'em horns ;-)

God bless!

Anonymous said...

well, the great thing about this book is the division...1/3 his conversion story, 1/3 extensive ECF documentation on the Eucharist, 1/3 extensive ECF documentation on Baptism

definite proof how the early Church viewed those important sacraments is the same as what we still believe today... wanna belong to the 1st century Church of Jesus... join the Catholic Church ;--)

Stephanie said...

Sounds like great stuff! I'll have to add it onto the humongously long list of books I have to read, lol!!

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Stephanie
Welcome home! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your conversion story. I think your writing style is entertaining, straighforward, and concise. I also looked at your profile, and wonder what is the relevance of listing your astrological sign? (The Church certainly teaches that we are not to indulge in such potentially dangerous theology.) I'm not suggesting that you give creedance to this, just wondering why it's in your bio.

Your Brother in Christ,
Bob

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful story. Accounts like these strengthen us all. God is so good! May He continue to bless you and Camille abundantly!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for your comments, Bob!

I have no idea why it's listed, I think it may be an automatic thing when you put your birthday? Or perhaps something that you have to manually take off, and I just didn't pay enough attention to do it? Something like that, I certainly didn't add it on myself consciously. =)

God Bless!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Anon!!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie
Thank you for your quick response to my question concerning the astrological info in your bio. The reason I had even mentioned it was that I could tell after reading your conversion story that you have a great love of Jesus, are a searcher of truth, and would not be taken in by a lie such as the zodiac! May the Lord continue to richly bless you and your family in this life!

Bob

Anonymous said...

I've never been a CoC but I read your testimony to see what attracts people to the Catholic religion.

You're parents had every right to be concerned for your spiritual well-being. The many things you've heard about Catholicism in the CoC actually do have some truth in them. Such as papal claims some of them really (if not mostly) outrageous like the popes think they take the place of God Almighty here on earth. We [the pope] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty,
Source: Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Exhortation Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae (The Reunion of Christendom), dated June 20, 1894, trans. in The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: Benziger, 1903), paragraph 5, page 304.

I hope that you continue to research Catholicism and compare it's teachings against the Word of God. Here's some good websites: www.pro-gospel.org
www.justforcatholics.org
www.contenderministries.org/Catholicism/papalfallacy1.php

If you believe that Jesus Christ's Blood shed on the Cross for our sins is sufficent to atone them completely then there is no need for Mary's intercession, offering sacrifices, self mortifications, or praying for souls out of purgatory or even by almsgiving, see Catholic book of Tobit 4:10(this is one reason why non-Catholic Christians do not believe they are inspired) These are not necessary because Christ's Blood purifies all our sins when we repent and place all our Faith in HIM ALONE!! Amen!! We are saved not by Mary, Pope, Catholic Church or in any church membership for that matter.

An x-Catholic who left Rome for Home

Stephanie said...

Thanks very much anon for providing excellent examples of the misconceptions about Catholicism I once believed and realized along my journey were actually very false, and were lies spread by anti-Catholics to discredit the Church. I would suggest that it is you who needs to keep researching. ;-) Remember...when I started out, I had every intention of trying to DISPROVE Catholicism as true, I looked for reasons not to become Catholic, but having an open mind and honest heart, I began to see how false and twisted many of the accusations were and things I had been taught actually were.

As for your quote, God is not physically present on this Earth, is he? It's not saying the popes are God Himself, all it's saying is that while the King is gone physically, his steward takes his place physically, the keys are passed to him to take care of the kingdom while he is away. The authority still comes from God, and God is still the ultimate authority, and no Catholic I've known will ever mistake the pope for God. But he is the physical shephard of the visible church while we are here on this earth. And that, my friend, is completely biblical.

So you don't need to worry about me, I've done my homework. ;-) Maybe you should take the time to read some of the authentically Catholic answers to the anti-Catholic attacks you've obviously read. Catholic.com is a good place to start!

God bless!

Sarah D. said...

Your story reminds me so much of my own. I was born and raised in the CoC. My father was a CoC preacher. I have since then (through the guidance of boyfriend - now husband and the Holy Spirit) been lead to the Church. I will receive my confirmation and first communion at the Easter Vigil this weekend! Praise God! My father died many years ago and my mother is having a real hard time accepting this. I just pray that she sees what I have been shown! Thanks for sharing your story. It is encouraging to know that it can turn out positive for all involved. God bless you.

Stephanie said...

How wonderful Sarah, welcome Home, you must be so excited this week!!!

If you'd like to speak to other CoC-Catholic converts (some who are also being confirmed this week!) feel free to stop by my forum, http://coctocatholic.110mb.com !

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Hook 'em Horns!????

Oh, dear me! I can see that your conversion is not yet complete!

Gig 'em! Aggies!! :)

Stephanie said...

Lol! Well, with the good things I've heard about the Catholic youth at A&M, it wouldn't be too hard for me to root for them as well ;-)

Tammy said...

I, really, was looking for something else but as your story came up it caught my interest. Mostly because it is, nearly, everything in reverse. I grew up in the Catholic church and am now COC. And, instead of questioning COC, I questioned the Catholic church. It began during confirmation classes. To sum it up, I ended up believing, falsely, that I didn't believe in God. How sad that was. Now, I am from the north, so never even heard of the COC. When I was 20yrs. old I moved to the south, the Bible belt if you will. Well, let me tell you what a shock that was to see there were literally hundreds of other religions. I'd had no idea! Anyway, after I married,13 yrs. now and going strong I'm proud to say, we went "church hopping". Now you can imagine my surprise at much of what I was seeing and learning. (We left many mid-service).Anyway,my husbands folks went to the COC, somewhere I didn't intend to go, and it was actually the last on our list...so we went. Well, as it happened I found God. And, thank God. It was the first time I had ever come to own a Bible (besides a 'table bible')and actually read out of it. I learned God's Word like I never had before. I thank God for moving me to move down here because I fear I would never have known Him otherwise. I was taught the Word but I also studied it myself to see the accuracy of what I was being taught. I found nothing unscriptural in what I was hearing. The steps God commands of his children to be born again were right there before me and being His word there was nothing for it but to believe and obey. I, too, cringe at any sort of confrontation so when I told my family about it I got the 'looks'. They were very argumentative and so I backed off. (They still love me of course)But I cannot change back to something that I know was not the truth for me. Nothing can be wrong with believing God's Word and obeying it. Since being born into the Catholic religion and being raised in it, even going to Catholic schools until my sophomore year(when my family couldn't afford it any longer)I am able to say that I learned things there that are not scriptural to the Word of God. Sadly, there are many kinds of churches that call themselves the COC and do not worship the same. A big act just recently took place in Texas for example. I don't know how yours worshipped since I don't know you or where you went, but from what you wrote about it is like ours. I noticed a lot that you say "I feel" or something akin to that. I just want to say I feel too but, when it comes to how I worship God, my Lord and Savior, I cannot give my full reverence to Him and obedience unless I am worshipping according to how He feels I need to. Knowing that I am following, the very simple,commands he has laid out for me allows me to feel wonderful. I can't begin to express how much. Knowing that I am pleasing Him takes a weight off of my shoulders. Knowing that I'm forgiven of sins by the instructions He's laid out is a peace I would hope for all to know. I have read that the Catholic religion began some 600 years after the Lord's Church, Biblically called the Church of Christ,began on the day of Pentecost(Acts) Yes, I believe you have heard about the resergence of the COC about 100 years ago, but I have to say, because there was a big movement to bring people back to the Lord using His Word alone, we have to assume it was there all along. I don't believe they just came up with the idea out of the blue. For me, anything that was begun seperate and apart and by man and doesn't even call itself by a biblical name is questionable. And why, if the Catholic religion is christian, do they do so many things that God has specifically said not to do? I can't, with a clear conscious, add to or take away from the Word of God. That would be akin to placing myself higher than He, and as a sinning human I'm not about to claim that. I believe in the COC's encouraging to 'speak where the Bible speak's and be silent where the Bible is silent'. After all, who am I to change God's Word, either because it doesn't suit my needs or because I don't agree. He is my Creator and gives us his Word to live a righteous life in the hope of eternal salvation. It is by His Word that I will be judged and so I am happy to obey in my desire to go to Heaven on that wonderful day.
Thank you for your truth, and for allowing me mine.
With sincere love,
Tammy

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story, Tammy! I found this part especially interesting:

I noticed a lot that you say "I feel" or something akin to that. I just want to say I feel too but, when it comes to how I worship God, my Lord and Savior, I cannot give my full reverence to Him and obedience unless I am worshipping according to how He feels I need to.

I hope I didn't give the impression that I believe feelings are all that matter! Certainly not =) But they do play a part...I mean, God designed us with feelings, so they are certainly valid. I beleive God made us to respond to music and art, for it to help us lift our thoughts heavenword. I would never, of course, advocate basing truth on feelings alone, though! Basically, I would never do something I believed God disapproved of because it "felt good," and I would never advocate doing as such. I do believe the CoC is mistaken in what they believe God disapproves of, though.

Knowing that I am following, the very simple,commands he has laid out for me allows me to feel wonderful. I can't begin to express how much. Knowing that I am pleasing Him takes a weight off of my shoulders. Knowing that I'm forgiven of sins by the instructions He's laid out is a peace I would hope for all to know.

Lol, I want to say "Amen!" to all of this because this is exactly how I felt becoming Catholic, lol. After growing up in a church that claimed to "simply follow scripture" and yet somehow ended up splitting over and over, and disagreeing on the interpretation of that supposedly "simple" scripture...I now have what I believe to be an infallibly guided interpretive authority in the Church. It feels so good not to have to worry which interpretation is right, to know that God didn't leave the interpretation up to us to figure out, but gave us a guide!

I have to admit, I tend to think that the things you believe are unscriptural in the Catholic Church are probably misunderstandings and misconceptions of the Catholic teaching...I say that because I know what the CoC says about Catholic teaching, and I've come to discover how many misconceptions they held, and also I know how bad catechesis in the Catholic Church has been in the last 30-40 years, and so I've seen many Catholics who don't know their own teachings and are easily confused by what non-Catholics have told them the teachings are. It is a sad thing indeed!

Perhaps I'm mistaken about that, you can easily see if I'm mistaken or not by browsing around the many issues I've discussed on my blog, and seeing what I learned as a CoC member, and what I discovered as a Catholic, if you feel so inclined. =) I'd also encourage you to read the writings from the Early Church, from the first and second and third centuries...I was amazed to see that the writings of the first Christians seemed undeniably Catholic (especially regarding the Eucharist!)

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by, God bless you!

paramedicgirl said...

Hi Stephanie, I love conversion stories, and yours is wonderfully written, and very interesting. A mutual friend gave me your blog site some time ago, and I have enjoyed reading your posts, especially this one.
God bless!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for visiting Paramedicgirl! =)

kayla said...

Hello, I just about cried when I read your story because it is EXACTLY what I am going through right now, I was hoping you would be willing to talk to me becuase I think your perspective could help me alot. I have grown up in the Church of Christ as well, and I met a boy this year who told me the truth about the Catholic Chruch. I have also fallen for him romantically, but I dont want my feelings for him to affect my judgement as I learn about Catholicism. I am struggling with my family and my conscience and trying desparately to find truth. It is so hard, and I think you can understand what I am going through. Thankyou for your story, it is an amazing testimony.

Karla said...

Stephanie,
Praise God for His love and care for you. Thank you for following Him. I found your blog from a link on Steve Ray's website. I think you should write the book you intended to. Conversion stories are very helpful to those seeking the truth and also to Catholics who are being challenged in their faith. They aid the cause of unity among Christians which we know is the will of God. Your book may be able to bless others who have are struggling with some "stumbling blocks".
You will be able to find a publisher, I am certain. God bless you and your husband and your family. Praise be Jesus Christ.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, Karla!

joe said...

Hi, I first wanted to let you know how thankful I am that I have found you. Your story is amazing. I myself am a cradle Catholic, and can understand your husband's point of view. I was actually wondering if there was a way that I could talk to your husband because I am in a very similar situation and I would like some advice from someone who knew where I was coming from. my email address is joekeitha@yahoo.com if he or you would be willing to email me. Thank you again for your story.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Joe! I believe my husband emailed you earlier today...let me know if you get it!

joe said...

Thank you so much, he did email me, as did you, for some reason they came through my bulk folder so I had to find them, sorry. Thank you so much for your help

Stephanie said...

Ok good!

Farrell said...

Hi Stephanie,

Welcome to the Catholic Church. Yes, I read the whole thing. How could I not? I was also rasied in the COC and attending until my mid 20s. I was accepted into the Catholic church through confirmation on Easter '04. I started to post my story here, but I'll see if I can get it added on the main page instead. It's been a wonderful journey! Wishing you all the best.

In Christ,
Farrell Aultman

Stephanie said...

Thank you, Farrell! I'd love to read your story, I'll look for it! And also, you're welcome to stop by my board, the CoC to Catholic board, where there are many of us who have walked the same path.

God bless!
Stephanie

Becky said...

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I'm a former CoC member (raised in it, went to Harding U, married by a CoC preacher) then my husband left me and my large extended family who are all CoC members condemned me because "God Hates Divorce!"

I hate divorce too, by the way. I was already heartbroken and felt that I might as well be dead, since my future was ruined.

This just is another time that it has been emphasized to me how the CoC is about the Letter of the Law, instead of the Spirit of the Law. And often it's not even biblical law; it's a law they made up! How does it justify ignoring some sins (say, gluttony), and being so conscious of others that it makes some things that aren't sins into sins? My guess is the CoC does that so that it's harder to commit the "big" sin. (Like the CoC made drinking a drop of alcohol a sin, because you might get drunk, which is DEFINITELY a sin. With that argument, eating a bite of food should be a sin because it might lead to gluttony.)

I find speaking with my family and other members of the CoC frustrating. It's as if they turn their brains off at a certain point, and they just refuse to think beyond it.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Becky! I'm sorry about your frustrating situation, but I can certainly understand! It can be hard trying to talk to CoC family.

God Bless!

voice said...

Hi, Becky, I'm sorry to hear you had to endure such clearly unscriptural treatment in the Church of Christ, and that you left the church afterward. Most people in the Church of Christ I know that have their heads on straight realize that when someone sinfully divorces someone, the other party is innocent. But there are plenty of idiots ready with hurtful "takes two to tango" comments and other such hateful lunacy.

My dad's divorced, so I've been there, although I didn't see it directed at him as much as I have some other people.

Anyway, I don't think this is a letter of the law problem, since the letter of the law doesn't hold anyone responsible for their spouse divorcing them.

Michele Szekely said...

I loved your conversion story! I posted it on my own blog, Catholic and French-American, so you see we have a couple of things in common (see my signature).

Many thanks again for your story and for your love of Apologetics.

May God help us all in spreading the Good News,

Michele
Szekely

A worldview anchored in faith, love and reason,
and a voice articulating it in French and in English…
http://www.leblogdelabergerie.com/index.htm
Si les langues de choix sont l’anglais et le français,
la vision du monde est basée sur la foi, la charité et la raison…
sur Le blog de la Bergerie !

Stephanie said...

Bonjour Michele! How cool, I'll definitely be checking out your blog :-)

God Bless!

Daniel F. Bonner said...

I read every word and was edified. I'm a 70-year old born Catholic. Over a long life I've learned volumes about my faith by reading the adventures in grace of many who have made the arduous spiritual journey. "Adventures in Grace" is the title of a beautiful memoir by Raissa Maritain, spouse of Jacques, the illustrious philosopher. about whom I'm sure you and Camille know much.

I will treasure your narrative. May I ask that you include in your prayers a petition to Our Lord through Our Lady that beloved family members who have fallen into indifference may recover their faith. Thank you.

Daniel F. Bonner

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Mr. Bonner! Indeed, Camille and I are aware of the brilliant Jacques Maritain, but I wasn't aware of the book by his wife. I'll be adding it to my every growing list ASAP!

And of course I'll include this petition in my prayers, it's certainly a worthy intention. Thanks for stopping by!

God Bless!

Laura said...

hi stephanie,

thanks so much for your story!

i was born and raised Baptist in the Midwest ... i married a Catholic boy who came back to faith through the Episcopalian church ... and now we are going through RCIA together. it's been an interesting road. it's always good to hear other people's stories -- esp. those of folks like you who grew up in protestant backgrounds somewhat similar to my own.

i'll be blogging about RCIA a bit if you ever want to drop in.

all the best,

laura

www.oakies.wordpress.com

Stephanie said...

Hi Laura,

Thanks for stopping by! Good luck to you and your husband as y'all go through RCIA. I'll definitely drop by your blog, I love hearing about RCIA and re-living it myself. ;-)

God bless!

Cristan said...

I enjoyed reading your conversation story. I grew up in a similar CoC in GA. About age 13 I started questioning their beliefs, specifically that they only called someone a "Christian" if they attended a CoC. I refused to be baptised because I did not want to join their "club". It took until I was 26 to realize I was being baptized into Jesus, not the CoC, but for my family's sake I was immersed in a CoC, even though I attended a Baptist church.
Now after many year of being afraid to, I'm finally attending Mass at my local parish church, and soon I hope to gather the courage to attend RCIA. Isn't it sad that I'm 32 and still afraid of what my mom will think?

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by Cristan! I know, it's so hard to break away from the fear and guilt from our parents. Hang in there, prayers for you on your journey! If you ever want to talk to other CoC-Catholic converts, feel free to stop by my board, CoC to Catholic! God bless. :-)

Hannah said...

Hi Stephanie,

I really find your story fascinating, and I was hoping if you could help me out a little. I myself have grown up in the Church of Christ (17 now, leaving for college in the fall).

Right now, I have a very strong faith in my beliefs, but I can't help but always be curious about what others are doing :). You may already have this somewhere else on the website, but I was wondering if you could me advice on certain books to read on the origin of the Catholic Church.

I guess I've just always been annoyed with anyone who only considers their point of view, so I at least want an unbiased explanation for many of the questions I have towards Catholicism. I guess it's my ultimate hope to find out why Christianity has had to split up so many times and know the basis for everything other religions believe.

Thanks so much!

Stephanie said...

Hi Hannah!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Wow, to think that just 9 years ago (ack! I'm starting to feel old!) I was exactly where you are now!

As for books about the origins of the Church, I honestly don't think I read a compiled-in-one-place book on that. I searched Catholicism more by topic, if that makes sense, and then looked at each topic in history. Books that helped me do this were Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism, and Steve Ray's Upon This Rock (which took a historical look at one of the biggest issues for me, the papacy.)

But I did a quick search and I did find one that looks like a good overall view of the early Church, it's called One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic: The Early Church Was the Catholic Church. Obviously the book doesn't claim to be an unbiased look, lol, but if our view of the origins of the Church is what you're looking for (with plenty of scripture references and citation of other writings in the Early Church) that looks like it would do it!

Good luck! And if you ever have any questions about anything at all, do feel free to stop by my forum, CoC to Catholic with other CoC-Catholic converts who will get where you're coming from. :-)

Brian said...

What a story, I was raised in a strict CoC family as well. As I was reading your story, I was like uh huh, uh huh, uh huh. It sounds all to familiar. I am just now beginning my journey of faith in the Catholic Church, so I have not even gotten around to telling my parents yet. Although, I am a bit older they will still take it a little rough, I think.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Brian! I know, it's always amazing how similar the stories are. Good luck with your family and prayers for your journey of faith! If you ever feel like chatting about it, do stop by my forum for CoC-Catholic converts.

God Bless!

njbarker92 said...

Wow what an inspiring story. My eyes actually started watering while I was reading the part about your family being so...adverse...when you went to tell them. I plan to have the talk with my parents soon, and I really hope they don't react the same way. Lol-because I'm still going to need money for college.

I've actually been on your coctocatholic blog a lot and I really want you to know that it is definately being used by the Holy Spirit to help people during their journies.

By the way-I have a title for that book you wanted to write: "Why I Am No Longer A Member Of The Church Of Christ." I have a copy of that book "Why I Am A Member Of The Church Of Christ," and I think it would be good to just reprint it in it's original format but with catholic responses to each of the points made.

Keep up the good work!

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for your kind words! :-) I will definitely keep you in my prayers on your own journey!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

Thank you so much for creating this site. My parents were Baptis and Methodist, I grew up in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood but went to a CofC school. When I started to school, my parents converted and I was baptized into the CofC. Long story short, but I always felt a tug to the Catholic faith because of my friends (they were all Catholic). I did enjoy studying scripture throughput my CofC upbringing - that is one of their strongpoints. When I graduated college, I married a Catholic girl and went through RCIA and conveted in 1984. I finally found a spiritual home and have never looked back....until now. My 30 yr high school reunion is coming up and I am reconnecting with all my old CofC friends from high school. Their reception to my having been Catholic for over 25 yrs is mixed. Some have ceased talking to me since finding out - that is the part of the CofC that I rememnber most and miss the least - the amazing amount of judgement and condemnation. Since finding and partaking of the Eucharist, the Eucharist of transubstatiation, I cannot imagine living another faith.

Stumbling upon this web site has been a true pleasure. Thanks!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for your kind words, God bless! :-)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to congratulate you on your spiritual journey. I am Catholic, was born one and will die one. Your story has been inspiring and it only makes me want to dig deeper into my Faith.God bless you and your husband.

Stephanie said...

Thank you, Anon! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I had the same experience, only in reverse.

I remember my confirmation clearly. I was 15. I could not wait to be confirmed, because it was then that I could be acknowledged by the church as an adult. And as an adult, it was my decision to finally leave the Catholic church and never look back.

I was raised in a Catholic church that was so full of hypocrisy. My priest told me that I would go to hell for not attending CCD every single week when I was ten years old, although he was later found to be having inappropriate relationships with some of the young boys in the church. That's just one example. There were so many more.

I soured on the Catholic church for that and other reasons. Once I left it, I never looked back. I found a Church of Christ that I absolutely LOVE. Just walking in the doors I feel a sense of family and of acceptance, whereas I always feel gloom and judgment walking into the Catholic church of my youth. We know we're a bunch of imperfect sinners, but we come together every Sunday to worship God and to thank Him for forgiving us and loving us, anyway. I like knowing that that forgiveness comes straight from God and not from an equally sinful priest.

I have something now that I never had as a Catholic... a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't need to pray to angels and saints to intercede for me with God. I just talk to God directly and yes, He does answer my prayers. As a Catholic, I never once looked at a Bible. Since becoming a member of the Church of Christ, I am never far from one. I don't remember learning anything about faith as a Catholic, only about the religion, itself. Maybe that's why I didn't come to faith until I left the Catholic church.

Anyway, it's interesting to see how different people can have such different experiences of the same two religions. But like I told my senior minister the other day, my parents gave me religion, but they didn't give me FAITH. Faith and religion are totally different things. I don't question how I found mine and I don't question how you found yours... I just know that God is good and I am so glad to have Him in my life!

Chrissy said...

I'm so proud of you. That's definitely not an easy thing to do. I was raised CofC too and was so blessed to meet and fall in love with a wonderful Catholic man. Most of my family was accepting, only one aunt refused to come to my wedding. My mother was there when I joined the Church and has never missed a baptisim, first communion or confirmation for any of my children. My oldest married a boy from the cofc this year and he's had some problems with his family. I pray for them every day. Please add them to your prayers, too, especially since they're expecting their first child next April. Many blessings to you.

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much, Chrissy! It's such a blessing that your family was mostly accepting. I will certainly pray for your daughter and son-in-law. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I wish I had seen this blog a year ago. I dated and fell in love with a girl who is solidly CoC. I am a Catholic. We planned to marry, but ultimately could not agree on the religion of our future children, were we to have any. Also, she only wanted to have 2 children max. I believe at some point her parents got heavily involved, as well as her preacher. We eventually hit a wall. Unfortunately, CoCers are trained to avoid much rational thought when it comes to religion and history. I do not say that out of pride or jest, but truly lament the fact. I can only hope that the things I told her about the Eucharist will stick with her. John 6, baby!

Jonathan said...

Lovely story, Stephanie. Thanks.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

That's quite a story. Thanks for sharing it.

sherrybella said...

Sad that you don't still post here. I found your blog while hunting for agnus dei images. Lamb of God was something that after I first heard it in the mass resonated in my bones. I then went and read a lot of other entries. I hope my comments reach you somehow. Very nice to meet you and your story. I'm a convert too.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for your comment, Sherry! I'm still around, just got sidetracked with other things and can't seem to find inspiration to write here consistently...I've been having more luck with my sewing blog. But maybe one day it will strike again. ;-)

Ryan said...

Awsome story!
I grew up CoC in Alabama and now live in Texas going to school, I start RCIA classes this September. My mom has calmed down on the telling me im going to Hell as of lately because I told her to educate herself about Church history and what the early church was ACTAULLY like lol. Im glad everything worked out for you, pray that it does for me as well!

Stephanie said...

I have CoC family in AL so I know a little about that, lol. Congrats on entering RCIA and prayers on your journey! :-)

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,
Thank you so much for writing this story, you are such an inspiration to those struggling with their faith journey! I am a cradle Catholic and LOVE my Church. I am dating a COC boy and though it started out rough, I truly think the Holy Spirit is leading him to the Catholic faith. Please keep him in your prayers! He is dealing with some of the same feelings and struggles as you did in your journey.
God bless you and please don't stop writing!
Liz

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much, Liz, prayers for you and your boyfriend!

Anonymous said...

AWESOME! I love reading converts stories. Thanks for sharing and yes, please, keep writing.
God Bless.