It was the end of the liturgical year, and I had forgotten all about my doubts about Mary and idolatry, about my promise to give the Catholic Church a year, and then follow God’s leading. I would have happily stayed in the Catholic Church. But God had other plans.
After reading in some now-forgotten Catholic book that every person should pray that God would send them a spiritual director, I was asking God to provide me with one. And one day, the leader of the Catholic Bible Study that met in my home mentioned that she had taken training in spiritual direction. I was so excited! Perhaps this was my spiritual director! I asked her if she would meet with me for this purpose. But God had other plans. The very next week, she was unexpectedly called out of the country on a family emergency.
I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my third child, and I was having some pregnancy-related health concerns. As I walked down the street one day, I happened to pass a pregnancy centre. I thought I would stop in and see if they had any information on my health issue. They did not. It turned out that they were a Christian, prolife mission centre focused on helping young mothers. I wasn’t exactly a frightened young teenager, but as I spoke to the director of the Centre, she offered to see me for spiritual counselling. I was astounded. Could this be the spiritual director that God was sending me to?
I began to meet with my new spiritual director regularly, and we struggled for months over doctrinal issues. She was a Protestant with a Master’s degree from a prominent Bible college, and we both loved to wrangle over theological issues. I wish I had a record of those discussions, but this is all I can find about those times:
2nd Feb 2011
I thought we would just avoid the pitfalls of sola scriptura vs. scripture and tradition, of faith vs. faith and works, of the hyperdulia of Mary, of Christotokos vs. Theotokos, of transubstantiation, of Immaculate Conception of Mary (yes, of Mary, not of Christ as is commonly misunderstood, even by Catholics), of dulia of the saints, of papal infallibility, etc. etc. etc. I thought that this would be more or less a Bible study, and we would stay away from these areas. But it seems to be impossible.
She is extremely knowledgeable about Scripture, far more than I. And there is a lot that I can learn from her. When she leads into the aforementioned areas, I thought we would agree to disagree. But she leads into them ALL THE TIME! Even though she says that one can be a Catholic Christian, she keeps leading us into these contentious areas. And because her perception of Catholic doctrine is biased, and sometimes inaccurate, I feel the need to correct her on those inaccuracies. She accepts my interpretation of Catholic doctrine, but of course doesn’t agree with the Church’s position. And I don’t expect her to. But I do want to set the record straight, when her impressions of my Church aren’t quite what the Church teaches.
So I find myself often in the position of defending the Church’s stance, even when I am not sure what I myself truly believe about the issue. It’s odd, because many of the points she raises I do not have a firm opinion on, in terms of whether the Catholic or Protestant interpretation is correct. But just by correcting her misimpression of what the Catholic position is, I seem to be defending a belief that I am not sure that I hold.
On the other hand,
And that’s it. On the other hand. One unfinished journal entry that doesn’t even come close to describing the feeling of those intense meetings in that little office, during which we debated God, life and everything. At times, I was so frustrated that I thought I would quit. And yet, I enjoyed it, too.
It all came to a head one afternoon when she said, “If the Bible says one thing, and the Church says another, which one are you going to believe?”
I had to choose. And I chose the Bible, the Word of God. It sounds like a small choice, but in my life, it was major. I had opened myself to the possibility that the Church was wrong. A stronghold was broken, and there was no turning back.
She proposed that I attend a bible-believing church for a year, and see what God would show me. After all, I had given the Catholic church a year. But that seemed too long to me. What about three months?
And so, my family began attending a Pentecostal church for a 3-month trial. During that time, my third child was born, my husband was saved, and the chains of delusion and idolatry that I had been bound in were broken. I was free, and how greatly God had blessed us!
My husband, who did not then believe in God but had been patiently coming to Catholic church alongside me for six years, was saved within three months of attending a Bible-believing church and hearing the true gospel message preached each Sunday. And he has been transformed — from the man who, when I first told him about Jesus, thought I should see a doctor about my mental health — into the godly Christian man that he is today. What a blessing to have him as the spiritual leader of our home!
We were baptized together, in November of 2011. Since then, we have tried to live more and more as God would have us do. I started homeschooling my oldest child during my maternity leave, and I never did go back to work. We felt that God was calling us to homeschool, and despite misgivings about how we would fare financially, we took this step in faith. And God blessed us with a new job for my husband, that covered not only his old income, but mine as well!
Our family has grown in so many ways — not least of which in number! We are truly blessed by a remarkable God.
We have since moved, and we now attend a Baptist church. But this was a much less momentous decision. I no longer believe that the church I attend holds the keys to my salvation. Christ is my Rock, and it is to Him that I turn for salvation.
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again with a yoke of slavery.