You would think that with my past, that I would be the last person in the world sitting in a pew judging someone else for what they are wearing, how their kid is acting or anything else. But as crazy as it is, after my conversion I had a moment where I was a judgmental self-righteous bitch.
I guess the reason is because it was safe. That and because I am a very prideful person. My pride is one of the reasons that God has called me to tell my story openly. He doesn’t want to shame me, but it’s how He keeps me humble. The kind words of encouragement in response to my last post are more humbling than any shame I could ever put on myself.
Besides being that it feels safer to be on the “right” side, it is also cleaner.
Conversion is dirty, ugly, uncomfortable and stinky. Just like most things in life. Birth is beautiful and gross all at the same time. So is death. I used to work in a nursing home; I could walk into a room and smell death in the air when a patient was passing from this life to another. Conversion is a death and birth so it makes sense that the same would apply.
We don’t want it to be messy. We want it to be beautiful and sweet. Flowery. I wanted to forget all the things I did and judging others helped me pretend that none of my past happened. Being a Pharisee is a much cleaner place than being a whore.
I would also use my past to push people away. If I was crass enough to shock the goody two shoes, then they would go away and that was proof that they didn’t want me in their church and prove they were hypocrites.
I think that if we are serious about bringing the broken and lost back to Jesus, which is what He called us to do, then we need to get used to the ugliness of what conversion looks like.
There might be people who don’t dress right, talk right, who have tattoos and smoke that come to our parish. They might even still think that Planned Parenthood is a place that helps women. I did for the first year after my conversion. They might hold hands during the Our Father and they might not be able to recite the Baltimore Catechism by heart. That doesn’t change that God is working in their lives and hearts. The only thing we should care about doing is helping Him. Not being right.
There are more important things than being right.
What made all the difference in the world in my life was that my priest and RCIA director met me where I was. They helped me find answers to my questions and problems so that when I found the Truth it was my truth, not just something that they spoon fed me. They never watered down the truth but they also didn’t shove it down my throat. He gave me bread crumbs that led me to find the Truth for myself.
Everyone has the right to finding the truth and making it theirs. We don’t have the right to bash someone in the head and force them to believe anything. And Jesus does not need that kind of help. He never asked for it. He asked us to love.
The key to evangelizing is relationships. It is what makes the difference between people who encounter Christ and cling to Him for the rest of their imperfect lives and those who just know the faith but have no clue WHO Jesus really is.
I am where I am because people loved me when I was a hideous stinky bloody mess. They hugged me and held me. The priests heard my tearful confessions and gave me absolution with tears in their eyes. And that is why I believe in every word that this Church teaches. Not just because it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t, but I know where I found healing. Just like the man covered in boils knew that our Pope loved him. Because when everyone else avoids him because of his condition this Pope reached out and hugged him. I am blessed to belong to a Parish full of people who did the same for me. I pray that everyone is that blessed and that we strive to be like our Papa and less like the Pharisees.