MattSwaim posed a question about When Conversion Is Lonely 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.
This was posted at the blog Green Catholic Burrow: http://bit.ly/2Wf7Mfr . A lot of great perspective in it to help all of us converts/journeyers understand those who object to us becoming Catholic, including this quote, which I think sums up a lot of it:
When I converted, I learned that not everyone who persecutes another means badly. Most people who utter evil falsely against you really believe what they are saying, and may genuinely think they are helping you, or at least helping those who might be misled by your defection. They probably really think they are doing the right thing.”
Would love to hear others weigh in on this. My family didn’t object, per se; they’re polite Southerners. But their recoiling at my conversion, I think, still stems from many of the points made in the article.
I’m not sure how I feel about that statement. I feel it is the direct actions of those who think that you are “going to hell, worshiping idols, etc.” that determine what their true intentions are. I encountered two sub-groups of Protestants when I left the church that I was at for 11 years. (I was also employed there as the Office Manager at the time.)
There were those who went out of their way to treat me like the “woman caught in adultery” and treated me like a sinner.
The other group was against my conversion because it was Catholicism and they had a pre-conceived notion that Catholicism is wrong. They don’t really care to listen to you explain your conversion, but they still treat you the same as they always have.
I feel it comes down to a matter of the heart. The heart can be desperately wicked, and your actions determine where your heart is. Persecuting another “brother or sister in Christ” is not Christ-like. I think it’s sad when your enemies are not those who aren’t believers, but are other Christians.
David W. Emery
Persecuting another “brother or sister in Christ” is not Christ-like.
Matt’s post is half right, in that those who turn against you when you move towards Catholicism believe that they are “in the right.” But “being right” is not the same as “being righteous.” Did Jesus not provide us a command on this point?
[Jesus said:] You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43–48
Let our Protestant brethren not be found among the tax collectors to whom Jesus refers, loving only those of their own group. They, too, need to be seen as “sons of your Father who is in heaven.” In this way, they too will “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I found that it took a little discernment to see where people were coming from.
There were those who immediately wrote me off as “having left the faith and abandoned Christ.” They said this almost gleefully and with a touch of pride that they hadn’t yet committed such an atrocity. I learned to ignore those types. (Looking back, I should have probably prayed for thm, and perhaps I did pray some, but I honestly don’t remember.)
Then there were those whom I could tell were really afraid for my soul. They tried to convince me of their understanding of the truth; they contacted me privately; they desperately wanted me not to fall afoul of God’s grace as they understood it. For them, I felt a great deal of compassion. I knew I would have reacted the same way if the shoe of conversion was on the other foot. I could only tell them what I had found out and listen to their concerns, knowing that they would probably not be convinced.
I am still friends with most of them. It wasn’t an easy time. There were some “friends” whom I felt I needed to let go, but I also believe God brings people into your life for a reason, and that he also removes them from your life for a reason. I trust Him on that point.