Over the years I’ve given bits and pieces of my testimony about how I came to Christ in sermons and books, but I’ve never woven all these pieces together into a single narrative. Many have asked me to do this, and so what follows is an account of the spiritual journey I went through in the process of first coming to Christ. (At some point in the future I’ll write an account of the transformations my faith has gone through in my spiritual journey after coming to Christ).
a pre-adolescent nihilist
I was raised in a Catholic home. We always went to mass, said grace before meals, abstained from meat on Fridays (before it was permitted) and occasionally said the rosary as a family. Plus, from kindergarten through fourth grade I went to Catholic school (where we had to attend mass, in Latin, several times a week).
When I think of those early years in Catholic school, it feels very dark. Not the happiest time for me. I’m pretty sure today’s specialists would have diagnosed me as having ADHD or maybe even as having Asperger Syndrome. They didn’t have these diagnoses back in the early 60’s. My teachers, most of whom were nuns, just tagged me as a demon-child.
I honestly never had a clue what was going on in terms of schoolwork. I couldn’t pay attention to save my life. And I always seemed to be getting into trouble. Often I didn’t know what I’d done wrong, and even when I knew I’d done something bad I couldn’t begin to explain why I’d done it. It was like I only realized I was doing something bad once it was over. I honestly sometimes surprised myself. “Did I really put the tack on Mother Claire’s chair?” I’d ask myself after some girl told on me.
This was back in the day when the church still allowed “corporeal punishment,” and I often got the crap beat out of me. I frequently found myself in the “Mother Superior’s” office facing her ferocious “ugly stick” (a spanking paddle). But the most commonly used weapon on me was the Holy Bible. In second and third grades the nuns would have a goody-two-shoes girl sit behind me (they asked to take turns!) and would give them a large family Bible to whack me on the head with, without warning, if they (the girls!) judged that I did anything inappropriate.
Sometimes these prissy beings would whack me on the head just for the fun of it. It did me no good to plead my innocence, since no one would believe me instead of them. And sometimes these girls whacked hard!
I recall episodes in which it took several moments for the classroom to come back into focus after taking a hit. I’d laugh along with everyone else, of course, but the truth was that this was extremely painful. I often experienced pain in my neck for the rest of the day. And since I’m being honest, the pain of the confusion and isolation was much worse than the neck pain. So, my early associations with Gods’ Holy Word weren’t entirely positive.
Another thing that contributed to my torment in those dark Catholic school days was that I was, from the start, branded as stupid. For reading and math exercises kids were often separated into different groups, depending on their abilities. I was always grouped with the three or four other “stupid people” in the class. My inability to pay attention contributed to my apparent stupidity. But it also didn’t help that I stuttered badly. (I had speech therapy all the way through high school).
Sometimes, in those rare moments when my mind wasn’t wandering, nuns would ask questions of the class that I knew the answer to. I’d raise my hand, but when I was called on I often could not get the answer out. After ten seconds of sounds very similar to a car sputtering and misfiring and other sounds of children cackling wickedly in the background the nun would call on someone else.
By the end of the second grade the nuns quit calling on me. Sometime in the third grade I quit raising my hand.
So, my basic sense of self in those early years was that I was a dumb, bad kid. At the same time, there was a part of me that didn’t want to be bad and didn’t really believe I was all that dumb. Appearances notwithstanding, I thought about things a lot. In fact, there was no “off” button in my brain.
The most prominent thought in my mind was death. Perhaps because my mom died from leukemia when I was two, I was obsessed with this subject. I remember going to my grandmother’s funeral when I was five. Lying in her coffin, stiff and clammy, my grandmother reminded me of a store mannequin. I didn’t know they were called mannequins at this age, so I referred to them as the “stiff window people.” For the longest time I drove the adults in my life crazy by incessantly stammering out incoherent questions about “grandma and the stiff window people.” I think I was trying to find out what made a person alive, in contrast to a mannequin or a corpse. In my little 5-year-old way, I was inquiring about the nature of the soul. I never got a coherent answer.
For a while in those early years the older kids on my block were into torturing and killing frogs, turtles, and any other unfortunate creature they managed to catch. I didn’t want to be ridiculed or banned from this cadre of older cool kids, so I worked hard at covering up the profound sadness I always felt for these suffering animals. Sometimes when the “fun” was over, I’d return on my own and sadly stare at the carcasses of our victims for long periods of time. I think I was just fascinated with the difference between living things and dead things.
Around the time of my grandmother’s funeral, I became acutely aware of the fact that we’re all going to eventually become “stiff window people.” This struck me as the most important — if not the only important — fact about life. We come to an end! I remember being puzzled that no one else seemed to be preoccupied with this. How can we not think and talk about death all the time? What else really matters?
When I was 7 or 8, I began to feel like I had some special insight into the importance of death. It was my little secret. This belief made me feel like an alien in the world, but it also made me feel special and less stupid.
I vividly remember an episode in second grade when the nun asked the class a question that I knew the answer to. I was the first to raise my hand, so the nun called on me. Same old story: I stuttered desperately and the imps from hell grinned and giggled madly. As the nun went on to call on the goodie-two-shoes girl with the family Bible sitting behind me, I remember thinking to myself: “You all think I’m dumb, but you’re the dumb ones because I know we’re all going to die and that it doesn’t matter who can or can’t answer this stupid question.”
A pre-adolescent nihilist. That’s what I was.
hell and the comfort of the virgin
In third grade I learned about heaven, hell and purgatory. This brought a whole new dimension to my obsession with death. The picture of heaven they presented to us Catholic kids seemed tortuously boring – like an eternal mass! But the picture of hell they presented was infinitely worse – an eternal mass in flames! Knowing I was a “bad kid,” I was convinced I was probably going there. For several years I had very vivid nightmares about this burning pit of eternal despair.
Now, this new-found fear didn’t improve my behavior much, since, as I’ve said, my bad behavior sprung mostly from impulse, not premeditation. But it did make me pray a lot. We had to attend morning mass several times a week, and sometimes I’d spend the entire 45 minutes on my knees praying. It baffled the daylight out of the nuns who knew me. How could a demon child take prayer so seriously?
Most of my prayers were directed to the Virgin Mary. There was a statue of her holding the baby Jesus in front of the Cathedral, and she looked so beautiful and kind. I figured she was my only hope of escaping the flaming pit. I knew I didn’t stand a chance with the austere Father, Son or Holy Spirit. If I had to rely on them I was in for an eternity of flaming head-thumping with an eight-ton family Bible. But Mary seemed compassionate. Surely she would have mercy on me and convince the mighty trio to give me a free pass out of hell. I was pinning all my hope on her.
Looking back on it, I suspect my devotion to Mary also had something to do with the fact that I longed for a mother like this. My dad remarried within a year of my mother’s death, but it was a marriage of convenience, not love. They fought incessantly, and the kids they each brought into the family were often caught in the vicious crossfire.
I don’t recall ever hearing an affectionate word or receiving a hug from my step-mother. In fact, when she got angry she often resorted to physical abuse. She came up with bizarre and sometimes brutal forms of punishment. As a child I often wondered how my life would be different had my mother not died, and I was sometimes angry at God for taking her. I needed her more than he did.
Mary provided some much needed consolation to this lonely, confused, nihilistic demon-child. I would sometimes envision myself in place of the little baby Jesus being cradled in her arms. I would imagine her looking at me the way she looked at Jesus in the statue. It gave me hope. Maybe someday I’d be held like this in the boring but painless eternal mass.
I now believe God was using the Mary statue and my imagination to sustain me through some very tough times.
an alien teenage mystical atheist
Our family moved from Ohio to Minnesota when I was in fourth grade and I started attending public schools. I was much happier in this environment, though I continued to get in a lot trouble, pulling straight “D’s” in conduct. Despite this, my life was pretty uneventful until I reached 7th grade.
One day my dad stopped by after school to watch me run in a track meet. When we got home after the meet, the house was mostly empty. For a moment we thought we’d been robbed, but then it dawned on my dad what had actually happened. He turned to me with a huge smile and said, “I’ll be #$@! damned! Looks like old Stella (my step-mother) has vacated the premises. Halle – $#@#$! -lujah!” (My dad took some really interesting liberties with the English language, and was always the world’s most creative curser).
He was a little miffed that Stella had taken some particular item in the living room that belonged to him (I don’t recall what it was), but other than that he exuded pure joy. I was rather ecstatic myself. As I intimated above, my relationship with my step-mother was not the kind anyone would grieve losing. (I should mention, however, that my step-mother later became a completely transformed follower of Jesus and we were reconciled).
The three years that followed my step-mom’s exodus were pretty crazy. My older sister had already married and my two older half sisters had moved out with Stella. My younger sister soon ran away from home to join my step-mother as well. So it was just my dad, my super-jock older brother and I sharing the house. My dad’s work as a salesman took him on the road for weeks at a time, and my older squeaky-clean bother was easy to sneak around. So, from the time my step-mom “vacated the premises,” I was virtually unsupervised.
This wasn’t a good recipe for a kid who grew up seeing himself as the bad kid.
I continued to participate in sports simply because it was expected of me, and I was actually pretty good. This helped my popularity ratings quite a bit. I also became a drummer in a pretty decent rock band just prior to my step-mom’s departure. Consequently, I became deeply immersed in the early 70’s party scene. I smoked my first joint soon after Stella left, and I was dropping LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs before I turned 14.
These three wild years were sort of schizophrenic. I was a ”jock” most of the weekdays and a “druggy” on the weekends. Occasionally these worlds would bleed into each other, as when I tried competing in a one mile race in an 8th grade track meet while on speed. I thought the extra energy would make me run faster. It didn’t, and I passed out when I crossed the finish line.
For the most part, however, the two worlds were kept very far apart. My drumming made me popular with the drug crowd and my running made me popular with the jocks. For a kid who continued to stutter and do poorly in school, this meant a lot. But I never felt like an insider to either world. I was known by a lot of people in both worlds but didn’t really have any true friends in either. I got invited to large gatherings, but was consistently overlooked on more personal get-togethers. I felt very alone.
Part of the reason for this, I’m sure, was that I never knew how to let anyone in on my inner world. I just believed that my inner world was…well, just too weird for people to relate to. I continued to hold onto my obsessive thoughts as a kind of secret, and this secret continued to make me feel special, smarter and alien.
By the age of 14 my compulsive thinking about death and the afterlife had evolved into a whole litany of philosophical topics. Around this time I decided I no longer believed in God. Any God that would take a little boy’s mother wasn’t worth believing in. I remember reporting to my dad that I thought religion was a crutch for the weak, and he agreed. He told me he had tried to accept Catholicism when I was growing up to appease Stella, but it just never took. We’d not been to church since the day she left.
My new found atheism felt liberating. It relieved me of my chronic worry about hell. But it also felt depressing because it stripped me of the hope I had once found in the virgin mother’s gaze. It meant there was no heaven either.
I was, in essence, back to my second grade nihilism. If we all just become “stiff window people,” then nothing really matters. But I was experiencing the emptiness of this belief far more profoundly than when I was in second grade.
I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time, but looking back on it I can see that the pain of my “secret” insight into the meaninglessness of things kept me searching. When I smoked pot or dropped acid, it wasn’t primarily to have a good time. I was hoping to find answers.
This was the era of Timothy Leary and Alan Watts telling folks that doing drugs was a way of discovering “true reality.” It was the time of the Moody Blues “searching for the lost chord” and of the Beatles leading us on the “Magical Mystery Tour” while celebrating “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (LSD). I was certain the God of organized religion didn’t exist, but I thought there must be something else to reality – an ultimate “oneness” or “higher consciousness” or “divine selfhood” – something.
I’d be at these pot parties and everyone would be talking, dancing, making out, or whatever. But I’d usually retreat into my inner world or sneak off and stare at psychedelic album covers or posters. I was searching.
I tried, on occasion, to share my “secret” and my search with others. Part of me wanted to invite people in on my inner world. But it never seemed to go well. Several times when I got old enough to drive and go on dates, I’d take girls I liked to graveyards. We’d smoke a joint and I’d start talking about the finality of death and my search for ultimate reality – or something. They’d politely listen to my stuttering philosophy for a bit. A few even commented that they thought this was “deep.” But then, when I couldn’t quickly move on to “normal” topics like the latest cool song or teenage gossip, they’d get weirded out.
I had a lot of one-time dates.
An alien teenage mystical atheist. That’s what I was.
waking up to deception
The most formative period of my life was the six month period between Christmas, 1973, and June, 1974. It was during this period that God used several important events and people to finally bring me into a relationship with himself.
It began with a life-changing experience I had right around Christmas of 1973. On one particular night I honestly thought I’d finally found what I’d been searching for. I was at a very crowded Christmas party, and there were lots of drugs going around. I bought three hits of mescaline from a guy, and he told me that I should only take half a hit because they were so potent. For reasons that still escape me (there’s that impulsive misbehavior again!) I took all three hits at once.
A half hour later, just as I was starting to fly, I found myself sitting around a table with the members of my rock band and some other people. This included a really smart but very stoned older guy who was a student at M.I.T. Out of nowhere this guy started talking about an eastern holy book called the “I Ching” and this concept called “the Yin and Yang.” Most of the kids around the table tuned him out, but I was all ears.
Seeing he had an audience with me and this one other half-conscious kid, the M.I.T. student went on to discuss how all things are ultimately one because all polarities incorporate their own antithesis. Quoting the holy book, he talked about eternally returning cosmic cycles and the illusion of birth, death and time itself.
Though my mind was becoming increasingly fuzzy, and though his words were exciting me, I initially tried to push back on this guy’s philosophizing with my own nihilistic skepticism. I asked him how we could be debating each other if we were really both one. I don’t recall his answer, but I remember thinking it was profound. At some point I told this guy I couldn’t believe in God because of all the suffering in the world. With a serene smile exuding a higher wisdom, he said: “The illusion is that there’s any dichotomy between us and God or good and evil.” Stretching his arms out he said, “It’s all one.”
And then it happened.
I suddenly felt myself beginning to merge with the M.I.T. student and the table. Then we began to melt into the floor. I turned and saw a Christmas tree across the room beginning to melt into the floor as well. In fact, the blending fusion of lights and ornaments spread throughout the floor, up the walls, onto the ceilings and then encompassed the entire room as a swirling circle. The cyclical flow then sucked everyone and everything into it.
We all were the Yin and Yang. The illusion of separation had been transcended. I was experiencing the inherent oneness of all things! I was no longer an alien, for I now saw there was no “me” that could be isolated from anyone else.
My heart erupted with joy. I had never experienced, or even imagined, such pure euphoria! This is what I’d always been searching for! I suddenly jumped up on a chair, stretched my arms out to the party crowd and, without a single stuttering syllable, announced at the top of my lungs, “We are the tree! We are the circle!! We are one!!!”
I don’t recall how the crowd responded (I can only imagine). In fact, I don’t remember anything else about the party, or how I managed to find my way home later that night. But I do remember laying down on my bed with a pen and a bunch of paper and writing. It seemed like the universe was channeling its cosmic wisdom through me. I remember being confident that this writing was going to be the next I Ching, a revelation to humanity that would undoubtedly change the world. For hours I wrote, sometimes laughing, other times crying, at the beauty of what was writing itself through me.
My next memory is waking up sometime in the late afternoon on the following day. My brain hurt terribly and was making this very irritating, relentless internal sound that reminded me of tin foil being crumpled up. In the language of the day, I felt “totally fried.” It surprised me that a euphoric world-changing divine revelation would leave me with this very negative after-effect.
I reached over and grabbed the disheveled pile of papers on the desk next to my bed and began to read. It was total, incoherent, repetitious garbage!
Things like: “Tree-ness is light and star – not higher plane but now. I see.”
I had a sense of disappointment that bordered on despair. No experience could possibly top the one I had had the night before. Yet, it turned out it was nothing more than chemicals creating illusions by frying brain cells. I’d been duped. And if that experience wasn’t about truth, I reasoned, I could never hope to find truth through any experience.
Not only that, but it occurred to me that there was something positively evil about this whole experience. Any experience that could be so deceptively compelling could only be called evil. This meant that there was something deceptively evil about the whole Timothy Leary philosophy of finding ultimate reality through drugs. I also concluded it meant there was something evil about the philosophy that there is no evil.
Looking back on it, my peak drug experience did reveal something profound to me after all. But it wasn’t what I expected.
That was the last time I ever took drugs.
the discovery of philosophy
A month or so after my euphoric mescaline experience I found myself in a humanities class taught by a wonderful teacher named Ms. King. We had just watched a film version of Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town. The play bored me to death until the last act when a recently deceased young girl named Emily returns to live one day of her life over again. She is grieved to discover how artificial her relationship with her parents had been.
This of course tapped into my life long obsession with death as well as my sense of being an alien, so I suddenly tuned in.
After watching the film, Ms. King led us in a discussion. At some point she started a debate about whether the narrator of the play was correct in claiming we “go through life two by two” (as married couples). Ms. King, who was single, suggested that perhaps we really go through life “one by one.”
Now, I hardly ever participated in any class discussions, not so much any more because of my stuttering (this had improved considerably) but because, as had always been the case, I was usually bored silly with the topics. But when some girls in the class started arguing that the narrator was right and that we are meant to live life “two by two,” I chimed in to defend Ms. King’s position.
To everyone’s surprise, what this dumb kid had to say revealed that I’d given this particular topic a good deal of thought. I let out a little bit of my “secret.”
I pointed out that we’re born alone, we die alone, and even during our lifetime the core of who we are is inaccessible to everyone but ourselves. In fact, I argued, it seemed to me this was the main point of Wilder’s play, the narrator’s comment notwithstanding, since the climax of the play is Emily’s discovery of how artificial her relationship with her parents had been. So, I concluded, the “two by two” idea was a romantic illusion created to medicate the pain of our incurable isolation and inevitable solitary death.
The romantically inclined girls were disgusted, but the rest of the class joined Ms. King in applauding my speech.
After the class Ms. King took me aside and gave me the first compliment a teacher (or any other authority figure I can remember) had ever given me. She told me she thought I’d make a brilliant philosopher. I asked her what philosophers do for a living and she told me they just think deep thoughts and get paid to write books and teach. I was intrigued.
Then she made me an offer. If I would read two philosophy books of my own choosing and write my reflections on them, I wouldn’t have to do any other class assignments. Since I was already behind on five class assignments and was flunking the class, I took her up on her offer.
I went to the library card catalogue, looked up the philosophy section and randomly picked out a book. (A librarian had to help me do this since I’d never done it before). It happened to be Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer.
I couldn’t believe what I read (no pun intended)! Here was an entire book written about the sort of stuff I compulsively thought about. I always just thought I was alone in my weirdness. Hoffer didn’t address death and the afterlife, but he offered a lot of insights about how people sacrifice their individuality to fit in with the illusive dreams of mass movements. I felt I’d found a fellow alien soul mate.
I then picked out Jean Paul Sartre’s huge and difficult Being and Nothingness. I hardly understood a word of it, but I felt smart trying. I did find in this book another kindred alien soul who thought weird thoughts and totally grasped the meaninglessness of life. In fact, I’d say that after reading this book my sense of emptiness was intensified significantly – a fact that contributed to my eventually coming to Christ.
All in all I read a total of five books before the end of Ms. King’s class. I handed in my reports and got the first “A” for school work I’d ever received. I had hated reading before this. But with the discovery of philosophy I began reading compulsively. I mean compulsively! Every spare moment was spent with my nose in some philosophy book or another.
I will be forever grateful for the potential Ms. King saw in this dumb kid and for taking the time to encourage me. God used her to significantly change my life. This whole episode played a huge role in my coming to Christ. (I’m happy I had a chance to tell Ms. King about the huge impact she made in my life before she passed away in 2007).
During the same period of time I was discovering philosophy, several other things happened that contributed to my eventually committing my life to Christ.
First, my dad and I began occasionally attending a Unitarian Church. He went because a lady he was dating invited him and because he liked the radical political positions the church took. I went because the sermons were always on themes related to my new obsession with philosophy.
One particular sermon really hit me. The “preacher” that morning was a professor from the University of Minnesota. His “sermon” was entitled, “Was Socrates a greater man than Jesus?” And his answer, to my surprise, was “yes.”
This guy pointed out that a great person helps people discover their own inner greatness rather than making others dependent on their own insights. Socrates did this. By contrast, he noted, Jesus seems to have seen himself as more than merely human. Judging from the writings of his disciples, he said, “one almost gets the impression he saw himself as a god.” Rather than help people discover their own inner greatness, Jesus somehow got his disciples to worship him as divine.
This is not the behavior of a great man, he noted. Indeed, he said, “one is tempted to suspect Jesus was prone toward megalomania.”
My dad loved the message, but I found it very disturbing. While I was still professing atheism, I still had enough Catholic influence in me to want to respect Jesus “just in case.” This professor was now forcing the issue. It seemed I had to choose between seeing Jesus as more than a mere human, on the one hand, and seeing him as a crazy human, on the other. It got my wheels turning.
God was setting me up.
A second thing that happened during this time was that the captain of our school’s wrestling team, which I was part of, became a Christian. I was sitting behind him on a bus returning from a match (in which I’d been badly beaten) and (of course) reading a philosophy book. Then I overheard him telling another wrestler about his new relationship with Christ. This floored me. I really respected this guy because he was by far and away the best wrestler on the team. We called him “the animal” because he was so ferocious on the mat. He’d taken third in state the year before. Yet, here he was belonging to a religion I was convinced was only for the weak.
I interrupted the conversation and said to him, “Don’t tell me you believe all that religious bullsh#t. Not you!” He asked me why I was so surprised by his faith. I told him that religion was a crutch for weak people who simply can’t handle the truth that we all die. He smiled as he responded, “Greg, what if your unbelief is just a crutch because you can’t handle the truth that we all have to answer to our Creator.”
I laughed the response off, but it hit close to home. Occasionally throughout the rest of the season this guy would invite me to talk to him about his faith, offering little insights like: “He died for you too you know” and, “It’s not weak to bow your knee to your Creator.” He was planting seeds that would, before long, begin to bear fruit.
A third thing that influenced me in the direction of Christian faith was that one of the books I randomly picked up in my compulsive reading was The Sickness Unto Death by a Christian philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard. The book directly addressed my lifelong sense of meaninglessness and obsession with death. Kierkegaard basically argued that all people have an inner anxiety about their finitude that will torment them until they take “the leap of faith” and accept Christ. What most impressed me was that this man was obviously very smart, and yet he was a Christian.
God was definitely setting me up.
The final thing that happened during this time period was that I began to date a girl who was raised in a Christian home. She wasn’t herself committed to the beliefs she was raised with and wasn’t sure they were true. But since I was always talking about religion and philosophy, she thought I might enjoy attending church with her one time. “It’s kind of different,” she said with a smile. Besides, her Sunday school class was offering a prize to people who brought visitors to church (proving God will even work through gimmicks if he has to). Out of curiosity, I decided to go.
The church certainly was “different.” It was a radical, holiness Pentecostal church (that I later learned had a number of unorthodox beliefs). They clapped their hands, sang loudly and occasionally hollered out “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” I was impressed by their sincerity, excitement and over all happiness. To my girlfriend’s surprise, I wanted to go back the very next week. In fact, I went back for the next six weeks.
Then in June, just after my 17th birthday, a young lady cornered me after a church service and asked me if I wanted to know how “to get saved.” I inquired what that meant, and she proceeded to share the whole “plan of salvation” (as this church understood it) to me. I’d been to Catholic school and had gone to a lot of catechism classes, but all this talk about me being a sinner and Jesus dying for my sin was completely new to me. I told the lady I’d think about it.
For the next several days I thought about nothing else.
Everything I’d been through the last six months was churning in my mind. I didn’t want to live my whole life with the painful sense of meaningless I’d always had and that I had been experiencing more acutely since reading Being and Nothingness. I’d given up any hope of finding the meaning of things through drugs or eastern mysticism. The sermon by the Unitarian teacher was forcing me to decide whether I would commit to believing that Jesus was a lunatic or to worshiping him as Lord. Kierkegaard was a smart man telling me my inner emptiness was a sickness that only Jesus could cure. And my wrestling buddy was convincing me that facing up to one’s Creator and putting faith in Jesus was a sign of strength, not weakness.
God had been setting me up all along. I could no longer resist.
I decided to go to a special Friday night “revival” service this church was hosting. A young female Bible School student was nervously giving her first sermon. I have no recollection what it was about, but afterwards she gave a timid altar call and I rushed forward. It was then that I finally surrendered my life to Christ.
I didn’t become one with any Christmas tree, but it was a wonderful, authentic, spiritual experience.
In some profound ways, surrendering my life to Christ culminated the spiritual journey I was on. I firmly believe God was involved in my life, as he is in everyone’s life, leading me up to this point. My life would never be the same. At the same time, I have found that my conversion didn’t really bring an end to my searching. It really just changed its direction.
In the years since my initial conversion I have gone through several serious faith crises, once abandoning the faith completely for about a year while I was in college. Also, as I’ve continued to be a compulsive student of philosophy and theology, my faith has undergone many transformations, some of them painful. For example, some readers who know my own theology may be shocked to learn that I went through a Calvinist phase for a period of time while I was in grad school!
But that is a topic for another time.