It is amazing the way that God uses the ordinary things and people in our lives to reach out to us.
I grew up in an unchurched home. My mother was raised Catholic, but did not attend Church due to a prior marriage and not being able to partake of the Eucharist. My father had no religious affiliation.
I am the oldest of four children. Our only exposure to church was through our maternal grandmother, a devout and practicing Catholic. She made sure that all of us siblings were at least baptized Catholic. And she would on rare occasions take us to Mass.
When I was 9 or 10 years old, I have a very distinct memory of attending Mass one time with my grandmother and my cousin. My cousin was a practicing Catholic. I watched as she knelt and prayed. Like most kids, I wanted to fit in, so I did what she did (at least physically). While we were both kneeling someone came up and asked us to bring forward the gifts at the Offertory.
Being just a kid, I wanted to do it because my cousin was doing it. So, I said yes. My grandmother was so surprised when she witnessed the event. Afterwards, it was all she could talk about she was so proud. What I remember most about the experience was being petrified that I was going to be “exposed” as a fake.
I grew into adulthood mostly an unchurched soul. I fell in love and I married. My (late) husband was Baptist by upbringing, but he did not attend church or practice his faith as an adult. No religious affiliation and no regular church attendance were solidified as the status quo for my life. Over the years I would attend a church service on occasion when my well-meaning friends, worried about my soul, would invite me to their church. One time I even made a truly heart-felt altar call. But the moment was short-lived.
During most of my young adult life I considered myself a spiritual person, but not a religiously affiliated person. I had a deep fascination with reincarnation and the entire New Age Movement. I even attended a few workshops and retreats on metaphysics. It was during an adult education class on “Meditation” that I took the first steps on my journey toward conversion.
Once a week for four weeks we studied different types of meditation techniques. Our homework was to spend time meditating using one of the techniques. I did my homework just as I was told.
I wasn't prepared for what was going to happen next.
While doing a visualization technique, I entered into a very deep state of relaxation and awareness. In my visualization I was in a dark cave, lying in a pool of water that left my face exposed above the water. Every aspect of my surroundings seemed alive and surreal. Then it happened. A voice spoke. I knew it was God — some things you just know I could not see hm, but I felt him. He spoke loud, very loud. He said, “My child you need to go to church.” I was taken aback,but I had enough wits about me to ask “What Church?” He only repeated what he said before. I came out of the experience shaken from the sheer force of his presence.
Needless to say, I dropped all the New Age garbage. I spent quite a bit of time looking for a church home. But none of the ones I found on my own ever felt like they were right. I begged God to show me. I begged im to talk to me again and tell me “Which church?” I looked in the Bible trying to find clues. Every church said they were the right one. Yet, when I would be at one they would bad-mouth the other. Somehow it always felt wrong.
Then one day a co-worker said to me out of the blue, “My church is getting ready to start RCIA. Would you like to go and find out about it?” Astonishingly, I heard myself answer “yes.” At RCIA, it finally felt right! That co-worker eventually became my Sponsor and we attended the same Church for a number of years. Some years later we would both reminisce on how astounding it was that the entire conversation actually took place, for it truly was the Holy Spirit at work.
I am thankful that God used my fascination with the metaphysics to reach out to me one night and to connect with the very depths of my soul. I am eternally grateful he used my co-worker to guide me toward the Catholic Church.
God is a serious user of persons and things!
I for one, am glad he is.
(© 2014 Cyndi Marlow)
Cyndi Marlow lives in Louisville, KY, with her son. She is happily witnessing her discovery of the Catholic faith by serving as Coordinator of Children's Formation at St. Gabriel Catholic Church there and by sharing her faith, along with many other digital missionaries, on her website Embeddedfaith.org. "God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called." – (unknown)