I’m kind of new to the Catholic Answers Forums, and with the encouragement of Carole Marie, I’m posting my story here. I’m hoping that it might spur some discussion among people who have had similarly powerful conversion experiences as adults. I’ll look forward to chatting with you all and sharing our stories and faith.
Here’s my story:
I was a JW for 20 years or so, from the time I was 8 until the time I was 28. I, too, was a “devout” JW. I became a ministerial servant at the age of 20 and gave a number of public talks in my congregation as well as at several others. Being a JW was my LIFE, as you can certainly relate to.
I left the JWs after my marriage fell apart and I began some psychotherapy to deal with my marriage. The elders were clearly out of their depth and weren’t particularly helpful, so out of desperation I sought some outside help. Fortunately, my therapist quickly sized up my situation and offered the suggestion of taking a little “sabbatical” from going to meetings for a month or two to focus on myself and my relationship. It took very little time away from meetings for me to realize the degree to which I’d been a victim of some very serious mind control on the part of the WTS. Needless to say, within about 4 or 5 months, I stopped going to meetings and never went back.
This upset my parents and family greatly. Of course, all my friends (and like all good JWs, I didn’t have ANY friends who weren’t JWs) went away, and things with my parents have been very distant since then as well. (They don’t know about my conversion to Catholicism yet. I expect when they do, it’s only going to make things worse. It’s tough being an apostate )
Anyway, the intervening years have been quite a journey. I got a Master’s in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology, studied Existential psychology, became involved in the study of the occult, studied Eastern philosophy and religion…basically anything that wasn’t Christian.
Around March of 2004, I was starting to feel some sort of spiritual awakening (or at least some spiritual curiosity). I was on a business trip in Chicago and had some time available in the morning so I wandered into a Borders near my hotel.
As my eyes scanned the Christianity section, I noticed something on the bottom shelf of the rack. I knelt down and reached for the book that caught my eye. As I touched the book, my fingers literally tingled (at that point, I’d had enough experience with “metaphysical” experiences to know that this wasn’t just an accident—it was a “meaningful coincidence”). The book was entitled “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” by Pope John Paul II. Of course, I purchased the book along with the Bible.
I went to a restaurant to get some lunch and began reading “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”. What I read in those first 20 pages was so beautiful; I was literally in tears sitting in Quizno’s. I intuitively knew God was stirring something deep within me, and that He was calling me to explore something I’d never, EVER considered exploring: the Catholic faith.
Over the next month I read “Crossing” and began doing a little praying for the first time in many years. As Easter Sunday of 2004 approached, it dawned on me that I wanted to attend Easter Sunday Mass (which, in and of itself was a pretty strange impulse for me to have), and decided to visit my local parish. On my way to the church, I prayed that God would keep my mind open; that He would let me have whatever experience I was supposed to have that day.
Of course, I felt genuinely awkward as I went into the church. I knew nothing of bows, genuflections, when to sit, when to stand, and certainly didn’t know what the heck was going on.
In spite of all that, I had a profound experience during that Mass. As the priest went around sprinkling the crowd with holy water, I, for the first time, really KNEW how much God loved me, and how much He wanted me to experience His mercy and forgiveness. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
By mid-May I was enrolled in RCIA for the Fall, and discovering the Eucharist, the meaning of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, St. Augustine and the writings of contemporary theologians like Pope John Paul and Scott Hahn. I felt like I’d discovered something incredible!
Before I knew it, I was dressed in a white robe, carrying a candle, being baptized, receiving Confirmation and first Communion.
When I look back on it, it’s really clear to me that God has been at work in my life for many years, gently leading and guiding me (sometimes not so gently!) to my true Home.
That’s my story in a nutshell!