Being raised Catholic in a mostly Catholic area I did not know many protestants. And though there were converts to Catholicism in our parish I could only name one that I knew, because he was my grandfather. We never spoke of it when I was a kid. I found out that he’d converted long after the fact. I was in college before I knew it. He converted because he fell in love with my grandmother and back then that’s what one did in our area.
When I began to meet people who were not Catholic what struck me most was not the nonchalant protestants but the “born again” Christians. Meeting people who were “on fire” for their faith. It was interesting and it was offputting and I was not sure what to make of it.
I’m a little disturbed at how much I want to talk to people about becoming Orthodox. I never wanted to talk about the times I spent as a Catholic or the years I experimented with the non denominational church or the Anglican church or the Presbyterian church. I never “became” those things. I was Catholic, it was ingrained in me. I inherited it, rather than choosing it. I flirted with Anglicanism, Presbyterianism and Protestantism in general but I never really applied those labels and I never really became them.
But I am becoming Orthodox and it feels like a big deal. To some people in my life it IS a big deal and maybe that’s why I feel I want to talk about it so much. While in the throes of my conversion I compared myself to the classic “bridezilla.” It was all about me, about how great this new thing is, my whole life was not about anything quite so important as my conversion and that probably well and good. It is a big deal to me. It ought to be. And in retrospect I realize it’s a little obnoxious too, I admit. Sorry about that.
What is ultimately awesome and helpful about becoming Orthodox in a diverse community is the anchoring that comes from being in relationship with people who are no longer the bridezilla- people who are cradle Orthodox, people who are long time converts, people who are questioning, people who are still on fire but let the fire burn quietly, peacefully, consistently, as my grandfather did in his day. This is the value of becoming Orthodox in community if we let it temper us well. I’m working on it.
Live and learn.