"Conversion Story" Chapter 5
About a year and a half later, I remarried. My new wife had been attending the same church I was attending and had been friends with my late wife and knew our boys from Sunday school.
She proved to be a wonderful mother and wife. Most couples argue about sex, money and children but we argued about religion and expressions of spirituality. I was moving away from charismatic theology and outward emotional manifestations ("holy" laughter, being "slain in the spirit") but she was pursuing "full- tilt" these doctrines and expressions of faith that I was shrinking back from. This was a time in the 1990's when the “Toronto Blessing” was sweeping through the charismatic churches in the US and abroad and our church was having frequent renewal meetings. People would be asked if they wanted “more of God” and would fall to the floor laughing or crying as evidence of having received God's blessing. People in the church must have concluded that I didn't want “more of God” because I never fell to the floor when I was prayed for. My wife attended all of these meetings and I chose not to participate since my perception was that people based the evidence of God's blessing on you as an emotional outpouring. I had not experienced God in an emotional sense for twenty years or more since my initial born again experience as a teenager and had never been emotive in my worship. This strained our marriage, as well- meaning folks in the church would question my wife as to my spiritual well being. Over the years, I had become a firm believer in not basing my relationship with God on my emotions. I had just been schooled in pain and suffering for the past 10 years of my previous marriage and never felt that God had abandoned me despite many dark feelings and times. I knew from personal experience that God was with me regardless of how I felt and I felt this was a gift of faith He had given me long ago. Unfortunately at the time, the prevailing teaching in our church was that if God didn't engage our emotions, then something was wrong with us spiritually. My wife was starting to wonder about my spirituality and suspected I didn't "want more of God" due to my failure to embrace this renewal. Once again, our personal application of theology had become a wedge between my wife and I.
The stresses of becoming a new mother and wife were difficult for her and the practice of "worship and praise" was no longer providing her peace. In the past, we were taught that we should just “forget about your cares and worship the Lord” as the answer to your problems. Instead, my wife started reading about suffering from Mother Theresa, Theresa Liseux, St. John of the Cross and other Catholic mystics. She was finding much solace in Catholic teaching and she was slowly being drawn away from our evangelical/charismatic faith. For the first time in her life, she started to understand the value of pain and suffering in the world and in the context of her own life. Catholic teachings brought her much comfort in these difficult times of our early marriage. As much as I was happy that she was leaving the emotionalism of the charismatic church, I was troubled that it took Catholicism to give her true peace. This was at the peak of the priest sex-abuse scandals and I wanted nothing to do with the Church. I thought that Christ "could not possibly be the head of a church with sex abusers and pedophiles." These were the days when the daily headlines of all the papers were tallying the millions of dollars being spent on settlements and lawsuits in Boston and elsewhere.
Realizing now that neither my wife nor I embraced our former theology we decided to leave the charismatic church we had been in for almost 10 years and joined a more main-line Evangelical church. I loved the more formal nature of it and didn't miss the spontaneous prophecies and emotionalism that was so much a part of our past experience. At times our old church had a carnival-like atmosphere and the degree of enthusiasm of the congregation during "praise and worship" time was the litmus test for whether or not God showed up. There were times when the worship leader would become visibly discouraged and frustrated if he could not stir the congregants into a religious fervor. I was thankful that this did not occur in this more mainline church. I enjoyed the preaching style of the pastor and the much more subdued worship services. I no longer worried that someone would tap me on the shoulder to give me a "Word from the Lord for you brother."
While we both attended this church on Sundays, my wife attended her first Catholic Mass in 25 years at a daily Mass. (She too had left the Catholic Church when she was 8 years old.) When the priest held up the consecrated Host and said "this is Jesus", she wept at the realization that this is the One she had been seeking all these years!
My wife started to attend Mass on her own ( she did not yet receive the Eucharist) and wanted to join the Catholic Church but I felt that it would be too confusing for our children. I couldn't argue however that it was slowly changing our marriage for the better as we both embraced trials in our life as a tool for good and not something to avoid and deny. I still was very reticent about Catholicism based on my past experiences and did not even consider joining the church. I asked her for the sake of unity in our marriage to stop pursuing Catholicism and she agreed to stop going to Mass. More to come.... The final journey home!