In the recent season in which I’ve been living I’ve been struck over and over by this reality – the process of discernment that I’m walking out in regards to this journey of whether or not to become Catholic feels lonely.
This isn’t going to a well-connected essay of flowing ideas. My thoughts are too disjointed for that right now.
This has been a lonely season – a sort of no-man’s-land. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I don’t belong in the evangelicalism of my childhood and teen years, or the bold charismatic expressions of my early to mid twenties. And I don’t belong in the Catholic world either. Unless I choose to join the church I can never be a fully participating member of Christ’s body expressed in this way.
Lately I feel confused about what once felt clear.
A huge part of my relationship with Christ comes from encounters with the Holy Spirit that happened in the context of those charismatic churches and the home church I led and participated in for several years. In those spaces I learned an intimacy with Christ. I learned to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking in my life, and I began to learn the journey of following wherever he leads. Through those worship services I found Jesus in ways I can’t explain, even to this day.
I’ve thought a lot, too, about the value of relationships in the course of this journey. The process of building relationships at the parish I’ve been attending is slow, stilted, and mostly feels unnatural. There are some friendships blossoming slowly, and I’m thankful for those, but I’m struggling with missing the intimacy and depth that existed in earlier spaces.
As I’ve pondered all of this, as the loneliness, the hunger for the encounters with the Holy Spirit that my charismatic past facilitated so easily, as these things have stirred over the last months, I’ve found my certainty of direction dissipating.
My ongoing frustrations with the RCIA process haven’t helped. I’m still struggling to stay engaged and interested in teaching that at times feels simplistic and shallow. I’m wrestling with the requirement to participate in dismissal from mass every Sunday, thus missing the key element (Eucharist) that has drawn me towards the Catholic Church.
At the beginning of this journey, one of the questions I held was how the two places where I met Christ most deeply – in charismatic worship and teaching, and in the Catholic liturgy – could be at such polar ends of the spectrum of worship. That question dissipated in strength for a time, but has of late come back in force. I wonder over and over how to mesh these two parts of my soul – how to find expression for both.
At the current moment, depending on where I am, I constantly feel like I’m hiding or moderating parts of myself. When I’m with friends from evangelical or charismatic circles, I feel the need to moderate the Catholic influences on my faith journey. In the Catholic circles I’m slowly becoming a part of, I feel the need to hide the part of me that flew across the country because of a dream, the part that sees and hears and experiences things in the spiritual realm. I can’t figure out how to connect these two important parts of my life.
And in this season, when I feel such a longing for the intimacy and fervour in charismatic circles, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve wondered if moving towards Catholicism is right.
I keep coming back to this, though – that’s Jesus – actually Jesus – up there on that altar. That’s Jesus that I will be able to consume in the bread and the wine if I move forward.
I’m confused in this process of discernment and just a bit lonely, and I’m seeking God for wisdom and grace as I move forward.