Turning points

August 9, 2006 | 8 comments

One year ago tomorrow I started writing about my journey from atheism to faith. What has happened in the past year is truly a testament to the power of the internet to connect people and ideas, and to the fact that God will lead you in the right direction if you let him.

Though I think (and hope) that I would have ended up in the Church eventually I would almost certainly not be anywhere near there today without the people who read this site. In fact, I’d probably still be languishing in agnosticism and apathy. So for all of you who have patiently answered my questions, prayed for me and provided encouragement over the past year, I can’t thank you enough. You have changed my life.

All week I’ve been thinking about how this site and the discussions we have here have impacted me, so I put together a sort of “best of” from the past 12 months. I don’t mean that these are the best posts in terms of spectacular (or even coherent) writing on my part, but that the topic and subsequent discussions were turning points for me that got me from where I was on August 10, 2005: still an atheist but willing to listen to the Christian side of the story for the first time in my life; to where I am today: a soon-to-be devout, orthodox, practicing Catholic who honestly believes that the Church is the one true representative of Christ on earth.

Here’s how I got from there to here:

8/10/05: All the labors of the ages
My first post. I thought a lot about that Bertrand Russell quote. I realized that I had to accept that as true since I didn’t believe in God, but it just didn’t sound right. In fact, it was quite obvious that that is not what’s going on in the human experience.

Earlier that summer I had finally looked at Christianity with an open mind and found that its story was pretty compelling. But I didn’t know where to go from there. So I started blogging, hoping that somebody might offer me some guidance.

8/15/05: OK, I’m convinced. Now what?
Coming from my background of non-belief I really didn’t know where to start. So I picked up the Bible and tried to start reading it. I was actually more frustrated than I let on in this post. I almost gave up the whole endeavor because it seemed so ridiculous. I knew enough about the Bible to know that it’s a collection of works written through a variety of different cultures in various languages over thousands of years. I had no idea how to know if I was interpreting it correctly. I figured that some of the stories were just histories and not necessarily directions on how to live, but I couldn’t be sure.

It seemed unlikely to me that God would throw us to the wolves like that, opening people’s immortal souls up to peril because they misunderstood what the Bible was saying. I thought of people I’d met who honestly believed with all their hearts that the Bible encouraged everything from racism to abortion to polygamy. I’d seen them in debates with other Christians and it always came down to a matter of personal opinion. There was no higher authority to appeal to. The racist/pro-choicer/polygamist always walked away as confident as ever that he had the correct interpretation.

The whole system seemed fishy to me. I started to think that maybe I was barking up the wrong tree and should consider another religion or path to God.

8/22/05: In hope of happy endings
The first of many times I freaked out and wondered if it’s even possible for me to believe. I write a post like this about every month or so. 🙂

10/1/05: An impasse
In which I resist taking a leap of faith. Little did I know it’s the only way I would ever find God.

10/20/05: Trying to see the light
I like this picture. And it was important for me to realize how much I’d been blocking out God.

10/27/05: A deal killer?
I realize that the Bible doesn’t even say that the Bible is authoritative. So…then it’s cool if I don’t believe any of it? Steve G.’s response make me think for the first time that I’m going about this the wrong way.

11/11/05: “I think we’re orthodox”: My Sunday at Church
In my church-hopping I decide to give a Catholic church a try. And it sucks.

11/14/05: Faith in humans
The famous Constitution/Supreme Court analogy. If I had to pinpoint one post that was the turning point for me I would easily choose this one. This is the first time I started to think that I was most likely going to end up becoming Catholic.

12/14/05: I found a church
After my bad experience at the first Catholic church I went to I took Steve G. up on his offer to find a better one. I immediately knew this was it. It’s still my parish today. My experiences going to Mass at this parish greatly accelerated my conversion process.

1/17/06: Why there’s no turning back
When I realized I’ll never go back to atheism.

1/24/06: An early mid-life crisis
My commentors introduce me to the concept of motherhood and marriage as a vocation. It totally changed the way I approach the question of what I should do with my life.

2/17/06: Time for a name change
I change the name of the site because I no longer want to refer to myself as an atheist.

4/18/06: Courage
I take a look at what’s expected of me as a Catholic and a Christian and realize how ridiculous the notion of atheism being for the courageous is.

5/8/06: Contraception
I openly embrace the Church’s teaching on contraception…

7/17/06: NFP and Coumadin: A dilemma
…And end up with a condition whose usual treatment regimen is not at all compatible with “openness to life”. It’s the first big test of my faith…

8/5/06: Coming out – Part II
And faith wins.

It’s been an exciting year. Thank you all for making this site so great. I hope you will continue to join me as the adventure continues.


  1. Tim

    Yours is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. SteveG

    Thank You! And I thank God for having gotten to come along for the ride!

  3. Martin

    Thank you for sharing your very personal story here. May God bless you.

  4. Mary Poppins NOT

    Well, where have I been? I stumbled here today, and got caught up on your story and am so inspired. As a cradle Cathoic, I often take the gift of Faith for granted. Thank you for reminding me how precious it is.

    You also are very talented, just the way you relay your story.

    So good to “meet” you!

  5. Jill

    Hi, Jen. I’m so glad that you have become a Christian and have grown so much in your faith over the past year. Thanks for your blog; it has been a blessing not only to you but also to those who read it.

  6. RobK

    Thanks for the CliffsNotes for those of us late to the game! BTW, I love the blog! I have a very close friend (also named Jen) that I would love to read your blog.

  7. Colleen

    What a thrill to relive your journey with you! What a blessing you and your blog have been to me and, I expect, will continue to be. God bless you, indeed.

  8. alicia

    I don’t know where you are on the coumadin dilemma, but heparin is cheap and is commonly used in pregnancy – adn is often prescribed for women with clotting disorders such as factor V Leyden, Protein S, and the other inherited thrombophilias. The advantage of Lovenox over heparin is that Lovenox only has to be injected once a day, and heparin needs to injected more often. You might consider getting an opinion from a pro-life/NFP friendly specialist in maternal fetal medicine. If you want some names, I would need to know what part of the country you live in.
    Also, properly used, NFP is as effective as birth control pills for avoiding conception. I think that you have what anyone would consider a sufficiently grave reason to use NFP on a prolonged basis. I could also give you names of some excellent NFP teachers, too. I moderate the NFP Professionals email group at present (it’s a yahoogroups listserv, restricted to professionals in the field).
    Me. I’m a convert myself. I’m also a Certified Nurse-midwife who also happens to have extensive experience with high risk pregnancies (and not just the normal happy folks who usually seek out midwifery care). Feel free to email me at any time.

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