“Everything has changed and nothing has changed. Nothing has changed, but everything has changed.”
These are the words that have rolled around inside me for the last 48 hours or so. I said them out loud to a friend this afternoon, and plopped them in a Facebook status a short time later. I’ve been mulling as they’ve swirled and wondering what would spill out.
It took around three hours on a Saturday night for me to officially cross the line that has separated Christians for more than 500 years. Three hours to “leave behind” thirty years of Protestant faith and practice and cross the line into being Catholic. Three hours to wrap up several years of praying and wrestling and questioning and reading and researching and walking.
It’s a weird thing to cross that line. Many I love on one side of the line are confused and some are feeling just a bit judged and betrayed. Loved ones on the other side sometimes struggle to understand why this isn’t a cause for no-holds-barred celebration. Neither side understands the other. Each side has different definitions for the same things.
Integrating the two sides of my faith journey feels impossible some days. I wrote here once that at times I think I’m too Protestant to be Catholic and too Catholic to be Protestant. I still feel like that some days. I love unstructured charismatic worship services, and I love the cadence and structure of the liturgy. I talk to Jesus freely all day long using any words I want, and I’m falling in love with the Our Father and the Hail Mary, and the rhythm and counting of the rosary.
Everything has changed and nothing has changed. That’s what I want to tell the people on both sides of the line who look at me oddly when they hear that I’ve been led by Jesus into the Catholic Church. I’m the same person that I was before the three-hour period of transition a few short weeks ago. I’m the same person who believes the same things that I have for the last several years. I have words and definition for some things now, but it’s roughly the same things I’ve always believed – I just have a name for them now.
Nothing has changed. That part I understand. I’m still the person with two and a half decades of walking with Christ under her belt. The person steeped in the scriptures, schooled in European religious history (and more recently in nursing). I’m still listening actively to the voice of Jesus and seeking to obey what He calls me to. I still love crazy charismatic worship, and I still love liturgy. I’m still the person who gets grumpy when God leads, and then obeys anyway. (I’m still the person working on obedience with joy instead of sarcasm and grumpiness.) I still love the same people, in the same deep ways, and I still think everyone should meet Jesus, because Jesus, well, Jesus is awesome.
But somehow, everything has changed, too. I’m having a harder time defining what that is. I feel it in interactions with some I love, where they work to avoid talking about faith and church life with me – topics that previously would have been central to our conversations. I felt it when I hung the tiny font in my house that I was given as a confirmation gift, and filled it with holy water, marking the sign of the cross on myself when I pass it. I felt it as I joined the line moving forward to receive the eucharist on Sunday, as I enjoyed a mass without dismissal – a plain old normal mass in which I could fully take part for the first time.
It seems whether I like it or not, whether I see them as divisive or not, those lines drawn 500 years ago in Europe – lines drawn over politics and faith and everything in between – those lines are still bold, marked in the sand, and those lines still affect me.
“Everything has changed and nothing has changed. Nothing has changed and everything has changed.”
It would seem the lines making themselves so insistently present in my subconscious the last few days would be the most succinct way of summing up the events of my faith journey these last few weeks.