Why I’m Jealous of Converts (and What They Teach Me)

cradle catholic

I am a cradle Catholic. There, I said it. I wish I could share my conversion story and tell of an intensely earnest, perhaps even tear-stained journey from where I was to where I am now. There are a million blessings to claiming this Faith since childhood. Many bear very real scars from their journey home that will ache until they see Jesus face to face. I know this is immature and exasperating for those who undertook great sacrifice to gain what I was handed at birth, yet the fact remains: I am jealous of converts.

Coveting Converts Conversions

It started in high school, when my conscience (unfortunately not my love for Christ) kept me from enjoying many “harmless” pleasures with my peers. I wanted to be less intimately acquainted with the straight and narrow.

At the time, I didn’t think it was fair. Why didn’t I get those years to make big mistakes and create an interesting, colorful history that would in turn shape my eye for Truth and grant credibility to my future convictions?

I wanted not only to experience the decadence of self-indulged hormones and worldly passions, but the other side of the coin. My desire was to live to tell so that when I started to speak, my friends wouldn’t roll their eyes and say “Okay, Lorraine” (referencing my very hospitable, very Catholic mother). I was keenly aware of what I missing at the time: fun-fun-fun and any credibility in my stance against it.

Credible Converts

My desire for conversion grew in college. Deepening conversion just didn’t cut it for me. I wanted the “real deal.”

My Catholic Studies courses only stirred the pot. Thérèse was dull and obvious (forgive me sweet St. Thérèse, I was young!). Of course she loved the Lord, she was surrounded by saints from birth!

St. Augustine, however, had a story that stirred hearts!

I coveted the innate attention to detail and appreciation for the finer points of the Catholic Faith that I saw in converts, things I had either long forgotten or took for granted. I wanted to discover it all for myself for the first time, a possibility that just wasn’t available to me. My longing was to delight in the Biblical significance in every crevice of the Mass as my formerly Protestant friends did. I wanted to appreciate the unceasing love and mercy of God in the way that my formerly agnostic friends did.

I wanted to tell others about my Faith with all the power and backstory that converts had. When asked if I had grown up Catholic, I was reluctant to say “yes.” I quickly qualified it with all the ways in which I had objectively studied and prayerfully discerned the Truth of Catholicism for myself.

I was, clearly, missing the point.

My focus was on action and adventure in the prologue, all the while ignoring the novel even as it was being written.

What Converts Taught Me About the Gift of Being a Cradle Catholic

I have come a long way since those college days. Real-life backstory, loss, pain, and joy have greatly mitigated this desire. The love I now have for and receive from Jesus is powerful enough to quiet and humble this predominantly self-centered longing.

I have come to find that opportunities to meet Christ and experience His love as if for the first time abound. He is always inviting me deeper. Ours is a dynamic relationship, and for His part, He will never be ordinary or predictable.

I can love Jesus fiercely and evangelize boldly despite our conventional introduction, for He pursued our meeting just as He pursued St. Augustine, even unto death. He held me in His mind’s eye as He walked the road to Calvary. He loved me to my very core as he offered His last breath for our eternal unity.

The only thing limiting my power to proclaim the Gospel with credibility and creativity is the part of my heart that I have not yet handed over to Him in freedom and trust; the part of my heart that He gently continues to call to conversion.

All Relationships with Christ can be Dynamic and Deep

There are no lackluster relationships with Christ. They all start as a passionate love story in which the Lover gives His life for the beloved. They all end with an eternal embrace.

I know the truth: that conversion, reversion, and deepening conversion are all swallowed up in the timeless now in which the better half of our relationship resides. That how I live my life today grants more credibility to my Faith than how I came to believe in the first place. That sacramental grace was with me from the earliest age and has done more good for my life and soul than I can possibly imagine.

Although a small part of my heart still pines for a more exciting prologue, I have found peace with my pilgrimage. I wouldn’t give up a single day I have had with Jesus. I only wish I had lived them better. But I have today. I will meet Jesus today, a familiar Friend, yet always that mysterious Lover who leaves me wanting more.

Are you a cradle Catholic or a convert? What do you love most about the way you came into the Faith?

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Kayla Sanmiguel lives in Saint Paul, MN with her husband Javier and their (almost) four children. She works in Institutional Advancement for The Saint Paul Seminary and otherwise spends her time soaking up these fleeting years when toddlers run amok. You can find her thoughts on faith and psychology at Mind & Spirit.

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  • Reply
    Mary Lynn
    February 21, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    You have me smiling with you about how the grass is always greener… As a late-in-life convert I would trade every minute of my wild youthful (mis)adventures for the opportunity to have been nestled in the Catholic faith from birth.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    As a converted Catholic, I mourn the wasted years of no Eucharistic presence in my life.

  • Reply
    Laura A McGlinchey
    February 21, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    I agree with Mary Lynn. As a late-in-lif concert, I would trade the same. But you have so much to teach us converts. Like that stuff about the chalk writings over the doorway on the Epiphany? Or about that lady saint with the smelly forehead?

    And we all have our place in his kingdom and each of us can reach people that the other cannot.

    I loved you post. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Breanna Scott
    March 2, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I always say it this way: converts learn why we do what we do, but cradle Catholics know what to do. It’s a beautiful balance that is needed in our culture. As a convert, I have different stumbling blocks that I need someone else help with. Likewise, I can help others deepen their faith with my Protestant heritage and love of the Bible (trust me, I carried my Bible with me to my very first masses, because I was so used to having to study during the service)

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