Flirting with Faith

On a sunny morning in June, 2003, two days after my 37th birthday, I had an unsolicited, unexpected and unbelievable encounter with God. Put more simply, without asking, praying or seeking, I woke up one morning a churchgoing agnostic (following years of rabid atheism) and put my head to the pillow that night a newly minted, highly unlikely Christian.

I wish I could say my radical conversion happened gently…all harps and angels and light…but that was not my experience. On the contrary, I was nauseous, had trouble catching my breath and felt like there was a 500 lb weight on my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. But here’s the kicker.

A lifelong skeptic who was, at times, militantly anti-Christian, I suddenly believed without hesitation that the Christian story that I had frequently railed against was true. I couldn’t have told you what that story was, but I knew without the luxury of details that it was all true.

Now this might make some sense if I needed a spiritual experience. Say if I was fighting a serious illness or was down on my luck financially-or maybe if I were struggling with a painful loss or trying to navigate a tough personal challenge. But I didn’t need a spiritual experience. As far as I was concerned, my life was perfect.

I was a successful PR executive making a healthy six-figure salary, married to my best friend who also made a six-figure salary. We had three healthy, happy kids and lived in our dream home about an hour northwest of New York City. I was seven years sober and had faced down most of my major issues/resentments in a program of recovery.

Life was pretty good.

Yet, there I was-sick, crying and convinced that something beyond my comprehension had happened to me.

No one was more surprised than my husband Martin, who was there with me when it happened.

He had been a Christian since he was a kid and knew the extent to which I thought the whole Christian thing was a contrivance. I had fought vigorously over coffee and cigarettes to convince him that religion had been created by leaders to control the masses or by weak individuals to soften the blow of their incapacity to deal with their day to day lives. He never did come around to my way of thinking, but I figured if he could overlook the fact that I was an alcoholic single mother with two kids and marry me, I could overlook the fact that he was a Christian and marry him.

So here I was, convinced that this Christian thing was true, with no idea what that really meant.

What followed was years of learning that is discussed in much greater detail in a book that I am writing. Suffice it to say that I learned that following Christ and living by the dictates of the Holy Spirit does not always add up to the overly simplified “join the team and your life will be wonderful” message that I have heard so frequently. As a matter of fact, the years since that day in 2003 have been some of the most difficult I have ever encountered. We have lost more than you can imagine-money, possessions, prestige and people.

And yet, I would not turn back for the world.

So, now I’m trying to make sense of this new life.  Attempting to go beyond predictable platitudes in order to allow this change of heart to lead to a genuine change of life. This blog will chronicle the day to day joys and trials of my journey and raise some key questions and challenges I face as I find my place in a faith that still confounds me.