vdbs97 posed an issue about Everyone I Know Is Mad on our old discussion forum and received some insightful answers from the Coming Home Network community. We’ve curated the topic for you here. Feel free to continue discussion in the Disqus comment box below.
I’m a long-winded person by nature, but I’ll try to be concise.
My mom was raised sort-of Catholic, and my dad was a fairly consistent Non-denominational/Pentecostal until his head injury, but they raised me without religion.
I went to an Independent Fundamental Baptist church on my own as a child and rejected that system and God as a result. Some years later, I joined the United Pentecostal Church. I left that about two and a half years in to become a Mormon. I am in the process of resigning from that church and starting RCIA. Trust me, I know this sounds insane. But being raised a “seeker” and to “find my truth,” it’s hard to find a firm foundation in anything.
I have been fighting with God about becoming a Catholic for about six months now, but I’m trying to bury my pride. I start RCIA in about a week, and I’m dumbfounded over it. I set out to disprove Catholicism and ended up here. Like what?
The one thing I find so difficult is trying to explain this to people. I live in a very Protestant/Fundamentalist area where Catholics aren’t really part of the mainstream.
My thread title really says it all. The people who are happy I was UPC were angry when I became a Mormon, happy when I decided to leave that church, but are angry I believe in the Trinity now, let alone that I’m going to RCIA. The Mormons I know are disappointed in me because I acted more enthused than I really was, and everyone else I know seems to fall in the middle, but still negative.
I met a lot of Catholics through my political work. The problem is, they’re all over the country, and my family moved to a new town, and I’m in a new parish as a result. So I guess my question is, how to find the strength and resolve despite having very little support around me/people constantly telling me how wrong I am?
And for anyone who came from any of my previous denominations, or anyone who may be able to offer advice, how do you handle near-constant opposition?
David W. Emery
How do you handle near-constant opposition?
With patience, Victoria. The Catholic Church is the whipping boy of every other Christian denomination. It has to be this way, because the Catholic Church is where it all started. Practically the only thing those myriad denominations, and the individuals who belong to them, have in common is their opposition to Catholicism.
But at least amongst us who are Catholic Christians, patience is a virtue. Jesus was patient with us, right? So we need to be patient in our turn. It’s part of loving our neighbor.
We understand where these folk are coming from, but we are not going to join them. We will stay right where we are and do the will of God as he has revealed it, no matter what the rest of the world thinks, says or does. Why? Because we heed the admonition of St. Paul:
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:1–2
Those words, “do not conform yourselves to this age,” are the first part of the admonition. “This age” refers to the unbelieving world’s ideology and bent. The second part is this: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God.” We are called by God to follow him and do his will, so that we may be enlightened by the truth.
So are all these people who are criticizing you mad? No. But they are ignorant and misled. Not one of them really knows the Catholic faith, so they really don’t know what they are criticizing. If they did, they would join us. But they are not open to that, so here we are with this unfortunate situation. Jesus told us there would be situations like this, right? (I’m thinking of passages like Matthew 10:34–36 and John 15:18–21.) And from that, we deduce that patience is in order.
But being raised a “seeker” and to “find my truth,” it’s hard to find a firm foundation in anything.
Christianity is a revealed religion. This means that God himself has given the truth to us, and we must accept it as it was given. Let’s hope that you, Victoria, will be able to discern the difference between the one approach and the other and stay with the truth as God gives it to you.
Oh, I so understand where you are coming from! My husband is supportive now, after years of being opposed and mocking, but he is the only one I have in my corner. My family and some friends are atheists, including some ex-Catholics, and they are cross, and all my Christian friends, from Orthodox to Pentecostal, Reformed to Anglican, range from baffled to outright verbally abusive toward the Church. I’ve heard the phrase “whore of Babylon” more than once.
But I take a breath, remember the real, true and intimate presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, and I reckon it is worth the difficulty.
God is leading you on a path that is rather unpopular, but that has been the story of the Church for a long time. Truth always comes at a cost, and it is never going to win anyone an award. But as a seeker, following it is something we must do. My Evangelical friends were either hugely afraid that I had been duped, or they accused me of leaving the body of Christ to follow after the Whore. My son was opposed to me, but then later on converted with me — much to his and my surprise. My daughters have remained Protestant and remind me every so often that they do not like the Catholic Church for this or that reason. It has thankfully not affected our relationship, as we still thoroughly enjoy one another’s company. But I am considered not a little odd for my conversion. (Well, I can’t argue that part, really, because I am a little odd in many ways. LOL!)
Trust in this, friend; that God will bring people into your life, and that he will take people out of your life, all for good reason. And much of the time he won’t let you know what those reasons are. Trust him, though! He knows what he is doing. That lonely part of the conversion road is one we have all journeyed on, and what I can tell you about it is that it forces you to get to know God more and to develop that relationship with him more. So much of Protestantism was focused on having a relationship with “like-minded” folks that it is a wonder that God wasn’t completely left out of the picture at times. At least that was my experience. So use this “lonely time” to good advantage and concentrate on getting to know Him, on learning to rely upon Him and be perfectly honest with Him in all that is going on. Consider it your introduction to being a desert monastic. LOL. No, seriously!
Let me encourage you that there are many on this network who are walking the road that you are on now. I can’t say enough about the support that you will receive here if you are open to receiving it. The road to truth found in Catholicism can be a long road, but God gives you the strength with each step to make the journey.
It’s not easy to deal with the people who are angry, and I find that when those times come, I’m reminded of the words of Jesus:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? – Matthew 16:24–26
I was also involved with the United Pentecostal Church, so I understand how agonizing it is when you leave, because after not cutting your hair, wearing pants, jewelry or make-up, and sort of being subverted into surrounding yourself only with other UPC members, it is difficult not to fear that you will be run over by a Mack truck as soon as you step outside with pants on! 😛 It took me quite some time to adjust, but the worst thing was being told I was stealing my son’s salvation from him. I left because I just did not find evidence for the basis of their doctrine in the realm of rationale or the Bible, and after trying for two years, doing one on one Bible studies, etc., I realized that to stay would be to live a lie.
I did briefly explore the Catholic Church, but quickly fell back into agnosticism and eventually atheism. In finding Christ again three years ago, due to the man that eventually became my husband, I began seeking again. Neither of us truly lives a Christian life. The difference between us is that my husband believes in Once Saved Always Saved, while to me, that is nowhere evident in the Gospels or in the writings of the early Christians. However, my husband despises the Catholic Church, and when I mentioned it over a year ago, we had quite an argument. It kept coming up, and I would try to explain that his view of certain doctrines, such as worshipping Mary, was a misconception and that Catholics don’t actually worship her. Errrrrrmmmmm, that was like throwing a can of gasoline on an already massive bonfire. In light of this, I decided that, until I know for sure that this is where I’m headed, I don’t speak of it with him any more. I haven’t even considered how this will affect my still faithful UPC family members. I just can’t even go there right now.
The irony is that my husband is fairly complacent about the Eastern Orthodox Church, and likely would not care if I was a part of that Church, even though he says it is not for him. Yet they do have some doctrines in common with the Catholic faith, so I do think preconceived notions play a huge role in his vehemence.
I flip-flop constantly in thought about which church to pursue, and it is difficult to have to keep all of this to myself, because it feels a bit deceitful. I go incognito online to research anything Catholic. It’s silly, but he truly hates the Catholic Church that much, and I don’t want to add any more stress between us. Without even adding my inquiry into the Catholic Church into the mix, we have very different theological outlooks. I know that eventually, if I decide I want to inquire further, it will need to be discussed, and I pray that can be done with as much grace as possible.
That being said, I tried handling constant opposition by arguing theological points, LOL. I don’t recommend doing that with such an emotionally charged situation; as I said, it fanned the flames, rather than quenching them. I had done really well for a couple of months in resolving to pray daily about all this, and to pray for my family. I have to say, although my husband didn’t come home with a rosary and an autobiography about the Pope, something in ME changed. I felt God teaching me to be more patient, to trust Him, to draw closer to Him. It was as if I fully understood that I was His daughter, that He loved me, and to keep seeking Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I became more aware of how I could choose to react, or not react, to certain situations. God truly will take a stony heart and make it flesh. I also felt sorrow, too, because I so desperately wanted my husband to be there with me. He could see a change in me, but it did not move him.
The past month, feeling defeated, I stopped praying, but I realize I cannot become discouraged so easily. I cannot have the thought, “If I do this, then God does this.” That is a set-up for disappointment. I don’t know what God’s will is. However, I see now, I was afraid and still am afraid to abandon myself to Him completely. I just found a copy of Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, it seems like the right time to read it.
I know, I need to begin speaking with God again, and more importantly, I need to listen, and allow myself to lean on Him. I find encouragement in the examples of Esther and Mary who, though they were afraid, said “Yes, do with me as you will.”
God can take the worst of you and make it into something beautiful, if we would only let him and not fear the suffering that may be part of that transformation. It is natural for us to shun even the idea of suffering, but it is necessary, as I have discovered lately, to ask God to help you in embracing it and trusting in His goodness.
I would say in constant opposition, pray constantly, even if you are in a place where it can only be in your mind. I’ve found that lately, for example, when someone is saying something that is upsetting, or he does things that anger me, I say, “God forgive me,” and I’m reminded how much I myself need forgiveness, mercy, compassion. I begin to see whomever it is differently. It is painful, because I realize that many of my reasons for anger or condemnation are due to pride. There is a particular woman where I work that truly makes everything as difficult as she can for me, out of spite. I’ve have never showed her anything but respect, so it is perplexing to me. When I start thinking, “How dare you speak to me like that!”, there is another thought that says, “Why, are you so special that you should never be offended?” Then, in my mind’s eye, I see her as a little girl. It becomes clear to me that she was somebody’s daughter. She entered this world with a spark, and some terrible things have happened to her. That is evident. Furthermore, she is not just anybody’s daughter, she is God’s daughter, and He loves her. This is truly painful for me. Normally, I would have given a person like this a verbal spanking she could not refute or forget, but that’s all pride, that’s easy. It’s much harder to try and see Christ in others or to be like Christ for others. I’m not very good at it, I don’t do it well, but I’m going to keep trying. 😉
In short (maybe I should have thought of being short at the beginning of this epic novel!), draw close to God through prayer, start with asking Him to change your heart and to keep you tucked safely under the shadow of His wings. Ask Him to give you ears to hear, and eyes to see. We will be faced with opposition all our lives. We cannot change that ourselves; all we can do is make the choice to allow God to change us.
You are not alone. Much love! <3
I’m kinda in the same situation, but with family I just pray. I go to my RCIA classes and pray that they will want what I have found someday.
Yes, that is the best way, catholicfaith34. Just keep on walking the walk, praying for all concerned. Find some good Catholic friends who can support you, and never argue or debate with those who are against what you are doing. We really only need to answer honest questions, rather than falling for the bait and getting trapped into an argument.
Jennie1964: You so right about overt opposition, but my family is too polite to be overtly critical of my decision to go from Anglican to Roman Rite Catholic with my parish, as we were received as a unit together. It’s harder to contend with covert rejection, although I know it is lurking beneath the unstated surface. I am discouraged from opening a discussion about my faith, and if I say something about “prayer” or “blessing,” etc., you can almost hear the eye rollings! By the way, my close family members are not affiliated with any church, though they were raised as Episcopalians,
You are right in saying that the passive–aggressive stuff is hard to deal with. It is sometimes almost easier to just hit the argument or criticism head on. Instead, it just simmers with this unspoken derision, and it gets right up your nose in the bargain. A very wise counselor once told me — or I should say MANY times told me — that other people’s opinions of me and/or what I am doing is really none of my business. They are opinions only, and not truths. So unless you are convinced that you are actually sinning, let their opinions just remain with them, where they belong. You need to learn the fine art of Catholic detachment on this one and detach yourself from their opinions altogether. I know, easier said than done. I am trying to practice that at the moment because of a completely unrelated incident in the past week, and it is so difficult! We are taught, in our culture, that we need to be liked. We need other people’s approval. We need to have clean noses in the eyes of those around us. But the only thing God wants is for us is to keep our eyes on Him and do what pleases Him most. As you know from Scripture, even God Himself was the subject of a lot of opinions as He pursued the Father’s will. He kept up that pursuit until it was accomplished — and so will you!