To go back to the beginning though, I was raised in the Worldwide Church of God. We went to church on Saturday, didn't eat unclean foods, kept the Old Testament Holy Days and never, ever celebrated pagan holidays like Christmas and Easter.
When I went to college, I didn't go to church much at all. I went to an Episcopal school and attended services with friends on campus once in a while, but I never really seriously considered the Episcopal church a possibility. The services were pretty, but that was about all. During college, I briefly dated one or two Catholic boys, but neither was very serious about their religion and when I considered it, I didn't think marrying them was a real possibility because one thing I would never be was Catholic.
My senior year of college, I met this really cute guy, who happened to be the son of former missionaries just back from 10 years preaching in Taiwan. Sometimes I went to church with him, but more often if we talked about religion at all, it was to argue. I'd pretty much turned into an agnostic, at least in practice. I didn't go to church any where and didn't know quite what to believe any more. But God was working on me, bringing me back to religion.
In the Worldwide Church of God, one did not get baptized until adulthood (not some undefined age of reason, but actual adulthood). So I had not ever been baptized at all. Finally, after many discussions, conversations, fights and whatnot, my father-in-law-to-be (that cute guy I'd met in my senior year and I now being engaged) convinced me that I needed to be baptized -- and so in 1997 I finally became a Christian.
My husband and I married shortly thereafter and years of faithful and happy attendance of church services and Bible studies followed. I was not particularly disgruntled at any time with our Church. There were a few teachings with which I never quite agreed, but I have always believed in the authority of the Church and so I followed the doctrines despite some questions. I believed we were part of the Lord's true church.
Then the rug started getting yanked out from under my feet. My husband began a study of church history, doctrine and just about every other subject he could get his hands on. He started ordering all sorts of books at the library, which I would pick up, hand to him and say, "You can read these, though I have no idea why you'd want to. But I'm not becoming Catholic." It's not usually a good idea to state categorically what you are not going to do when it comes to God.
My husband started shoving books at me. His first try was giving me Chesterton's Orthodoxy when I was 9 months pregnant. That didn't go over so well. So he tried again. He gave me Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy by Frederica Mathewes-Green. The beauty of the ancient church, which the author describes in great detail started working on me. I read more. I thought and pondered and prayed about what I was learning.
I was discovering that early Christians believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I was realizing that the Bible hadn't always been there in a compiled form, which made Sola Scriptura almost an impossibility. I considered all the early Saints who went to their deaths for a religion that I had been taught they were responsible for paganizing and apostatizing. I was amazed to discover that early Protestants like Luther believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary and prayers to Saints.
Things started to make sense, but at the same time nothing made sense. What about everything I'd always been taught and always believed? Where was the church I'd been following to be found in history? Why was the church that was the "pillar and ground of the Truth" "the light on the hill" the church "against which the gates of Hell could not prevail" so invisible for 1500+ years?
I was mad. Mad at my husband for ruining my life which was going along a path I knew and was doing just fine on. Oddly enough I did not have a very difficult time accepting the Magisterium (I'd always believed the Church had teaching authority over me). I didn't have too much trouble with Mary and the saints (I can go into that at another time). One of the most difficult things for me to accept was the teaching on birth control. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I told myself and the world I was done having babies. I'd done my fair share and now I was going to have to go through it all again? No thanks!
But you can't always get what you want, can you? One night as I lay awake crying and furious, a small voice ran through my head. It sang the words to a song we often sang in church:
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Was it honest of me to sing that in church when I wanted my own way? I wanted a family under my own terms. I wanted church under my own terms.
After that night I could no longer really object very much, though I kept trying. I read everything I could get my hands on, but we all still kept on going to our old church. It became obvious to us and to some of our close church friends that we wouldn't be there much longer, but how to make that leap?
We finally found a way when we met a lovely man who had once been a preacher in our church and had since, some years before, converted to Catholicism with his family. He invited us to attend mass with him one Sunday. Once we went, I told my husband I couldn't go back. There was no return. We dodged questions for a few weeks about where we were and then wrote a letter explaining to our Elders why, although we loved and respected our former congregation, we were not coming back.
We also had to tell family members, which wasn't too fun, as one might expect. In the end it was done though. We still love the people we left behind, but we couldn't be happier about the life ahead of us in the Catholic church.