Recently, I was editing a memoir by a woman who had been raised a religious Christian but married a Muslim and converted to Islam as an adult. Embedded deep into her conversion story was the pain she’d suffered at the hands of her Church, which had shunned her family in a time of need. Although disillusioned with Christianity, her longing for God remained. When she fell in love with a Muslim, she saw that same thirst for God in his own faith, and they joined their faiths and their lives.
Even as a convert, there were pieces of Christianity that she didn’t let go. She still believed Jesus was God and in the Holy Trinity as well as the Holy Spirit’s movement in her life and in the world. I’ve often wondered about how converts to a new religion reconcile the new and the old, and this manuscript provided some honest and authentic insight.
Although I’ve never converted, so much of this woman’s story rang true for me. I realized that, in a lot of ways, we all live the life of a convert–if we no longer agree with what we were taught as children, if we’ve been disillusioned by our faith, if the official teachings of our faith differ from our consciences or what our experiences have revealed to us as true. Just as this woman’s conversion didn’t change the heart of her spiritual beliefs or experiences, nor can the expansion of my spiritual beliefs fully replace the faith I was born into and raised with. I know that even if I left the Church, something in my core would stay Catholic no matter what I called myself officially. There will probably always be a rosary on my nightstand that I can reach for if I awake from a nightmare; and I hope I will always keep the reverence for sacred mystery that the Catholic faith has given me, as well as a belief in miracles. What pieces of Catholicism have you carried with you no matter what? Which pieces do you hope will always remain?
Lacey Louwagie is a freelance writer and editor, feminist, and cradle Catholic. Her favorite topics of exploration are religion, spirituality, psychology, and sexuality. She’s a member of the CTA blog team and founder of a speculative fiction writers’ group. In addition to blogging here, she blogs about writing at LL Word.