Healthy Soul/My Life/Witness and Evangelization When Your Conversion is Anti-Climactic by Leah Murphy “Everything is grace” -St. Therese of Lisieux Growing up a cradle Catholic, I never strayed too far from my faith. From when I was very young, I believed in God and had a desire to know Him. When I got into middle school and high school and started getting into youth group, going on retreats, conferences, etc. I would hear intense testimonies, from amazing individuals, who had overcome unthinkable odds to come to know Jesus. I heard story after story of the atheist who found God after crying out against Him, the drug addict who came to realize that Jesus was the only thing that would satisfy every desire of his heart, the person with the terminal illness who found God in suffering, the non-Catholic who rebelled against her family’s non-Catholicism to begin RCIA classes. I’d hear these talks and hear the way these people spoke about Jesus and His relentless love for them and I’d think to myself, “Does my story even matter? If I don’t come from such a troubled past, does Jesus even need to prove His love to me? Does Jesus even need to love me?” I Was Too Ordinary Then I’d start to think about the great saints and the way Jesus saved them from who they might have been: St. Paul, who met God on his way to kill people who believed in Him, St. Augustine, who lived a life of promiscuity until God met him on on intellectual level, St. Thomas Aquinas, whose family tried to discourage him from joining the Dominicans by ordering a prostitute to tempt him, St. Maria Goretti, who was so committed to a life of chastity and sole union with Christ, that she was murdered by a man who wanted to take advantage of her. Although these peoples’ lives should inspire great awe for God’s power, instead of growing in awe, I would start to fear that my life just simply wasn’t dramatic enough for God to save me in some magnificent way. I would start to think that I could never be a great saint because I hadn’t had to overcome any unthinkable obstacles in coming to know and love Jesus. This was a big struggle of mine until I got to college and started to learn more about this thing we believe in called grace. I learned that grace, the very divine life of the Trinity that is poured within us every time we receive a sacrament, and in countless other moments, is what makes us holy; it’s what what makes it possible for the saints to overcome great obstacles in following Christ, but also what prevents us from falling into obstacles on our journeys with Christ. God Is Extraordinary When I learned this, something magnificently humbling happened: I realized that I didn’t have an anti-climactic conversion story because I was boring and good at “following the rules.” No; rather, I didn’t have a dramatic conversion story because, by grace, God prevented me from falling into certain obstacles that He permitted others to fall into. That’s not to say that others who have more obstacles to deal with are abandoned by God — just look to the lives of the many saints who had far greater obstacles than I did — He, quite mysteriously and in ways we might not ever understand, permits them to endure trials that He hasn’t permitted me to endure. I have certainly encountered some trials, but by receiving and freely cooperating with grace, I’ve been protected from some of the greater ones. Furthermore, I am certainly still on a journey and am learning everyday just how difficult virtue, holiness, and sainthood is and it is this difficulty that gives me reason to, over and over again, depend on God’s grace to remain close to Him. Because God had prevented me from falling in various ways, I could no longer look at my faith journey and think “how boring and uneventful… I’ve always followed Jesus, without any dramatic event to pull me away from Him.” I had to look at my faith journey and give glory to God for giving me the grace to follow Him, and to not be led astray by any drastic events. Don’t be deceived — I have lived through a great deal of serious sin, mistakes, struggles, and challenging life events. Yet, through it all, I’ve pretty consistently believed in and sought out Jesus. It is a grace, and only grace, that has made it possible for me to consistently believe in and try to follow Jesus. As soon as I start to believe that my constant belief in Christ is something of my own strength, I invalidate the very life of God that is within me that has made it possible for me to follow Him. Just because you may not have had to endure a tragic life event, or because you haven’t hit some kind of rock bottom before running to Jesus, does not mean that He is not busy saving you. If your faith journey seems “anti-climactic” because you’ve simply followed Christ and wanted to know Him since you first met Him, give praise to Him for giving you the grace to seek Him out in that way. Everything is Grace This undeserved gift that God gives to us, though it is promised to us in every sacrament, is not bound by the sacraments, meaning that God gives grace to human beings freely and mysteriously. Why He gives some the grace to endure and overcome dramatic obstacles in their faith journeys, and why He gives some the grace to avoid such troubles, we’ll probably never fully understand. However, this fact should humble us to realize that, even when we might not even realize it, His divine life is working within us and it, with our cooperation, is what makes it possible for us to fully know, love, and serve Him as we ought. I don’t know what your faith journey looks like. I don’t know if you are like me and have, what can seem like an anti-climactic conversion story, if you’ve overcome extraordinary obstacles to maintain your relationship with God, or if you’re in the midst of struggling through challenges in maintaining your relationship with God. What I do know, is that like St. Therese of Lisieux said, everything really is grace; God can and will use any obstacle or lack thereof as an occasion for grace to breathe His life into us, to draw us closer to Him, so long as we allow Him to do so.