Question #7. Your memoir includes events that you describe as “God’s kingdom breaking through.” Is there one episode in your life that you would say is your “conversion experience”?
Looking back, I recognize that God was always there “breaking through”. It was me that wasn’t attuned to recognizing Him. I’d been a church-goer all my life, but it was mostly out of guilt or obligation. I wouldn’t describe it as a “conversion”, but what has made the biggest difference in my faith was when I really believed that God loved me and wanted the best for me.
One verse I’d read over and over again, Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (ESV)
I spent my first 50 years pretty much longing for God, but constantly running from Him. I was afraid of being judged and falling short as I did with many of the humans in my life. Why would God be any different?
When you spend your life trying to be perfect, your only defense is to say, “Well, at least I’m better than her/him.” In trying to elevate my standing with God, I was subconsciously judging everyone else by putting them down. All along I acknowledged I was a sinner, but I competed with others for God’s attention thinking there was a limit to God’s love.
I don’t know what triggered it. Maybe it was a sermon at St. George’s or a friend’s discussion about a Scripture verse, but I finally understood that God really loved me as he made me, blemishes and all.
In my book, I describe a vision I’d had many times where I was a little girl again in a yellow gingham dress running in a meadow. I was always just out of reach of an unknown figure. The last time I had the dream, I was scooped up in the arms of my Father who for the first time loved me unconditionally.
Rather than a “conversion” experience, I’d name it as the start of my “transformation experience.” Because I now felt loved by God, I was able to look at others differently.
I’d struggled for over 50 years and the running was over.
I admit that a new dilemma evolved that took me awhile to work through. I still had a hard time believing that God loved everyone else too. A half century of competing with others was hard to unwind. Slowly the Holy Spirit worked with me until I now understand that God’s love is for everyone, even those I perceive as my worst enemies.
I’d say it wasn’t a single “conversion experience”, but I mark it as the start of my “transformation”.