I was born, baptized and raised Roman Catholic. I never knew what it really meant because my Dad would go to the earliest Mass possible so he could go golfing and my mother had to take the five of us children to a later Mass, in a Ford station wagon that often broke down. I liked wearing white gloves and a hat. I liked counting women's hats from the balcony the choir didn't use anymore. But after my First Holy Communion at age 7 or 8, the three hour fasting inevitably led to me passing out about 15 minutes into the service. Maybe it was the incense, but more likely low blood sugar. And the ushers would come forward, not to collect money, but to carry me from the front of the church right back down the center aisle, laying me on a cold linoleum floor and breaking out the smelling salts. It was mortifying. My grandmother would sneak me a butterscotch lifesaver candy and a wink. My father asked the priest if I could at least have orange juice and he said yes. Neither attempt helped; I'd pass out anyway.
Somehow I kept going, probably the fear of my father and eternal damnation, and I actually made it partway through Confirmation. My mother has a photo of the day, I look like a ghost in a white robe wearing a red collar and cap. I passed out right at the altar rail that day. After that I took to wearing a black beret instead of the lace mantilla that was popular at the time. I may have even eaten Twinkies right before church, in a last ditch attempt not to pass out in adolescence, when the social stakes were higher. Then at sixteen I ran away for other reasons, leaving the Catholic church far behind.
I never doubted the existence of a Creator, somewhere along the line I reconciled the concept of evolution and God. I tried on and off attending different denominations and churches with variations on the theme, never quite feeling comfortable in the environment. I went on spiritual retreats and read dozens of books. Just before I met my husband I was attending a Baptist Bible study for women. We were studying the book of Romans, one of my favorite New Testament collections of writings. The Bible study was rote, read the passage and answer the question correctly in the space provided. The questions were phrased to elicit only one answer; I felt like passing out. Then I met my husband, the atheist, and was saved from the Baptists after the pastor who didn't even lead the Bible study said no to marrying us.
As fate would have it, my husband worked with a woman whose husband was the pastor of the Methodist church where I am now a member. He had been there almost 25 years and in our mandatory pre-marital counseling, he talked mostly about how much he loved to fish on a sunny Saturday. I remember asking if he ate the fish and he answered, "no, I believe in catching and releasing." He knew my husband was not a believer and his only stipulation was that if we had children I could raise them as Christians. But it wasn't then that I became a Methodist or even tried attending church there.
The real story starts years later, two sons later, a grouchy mother-in-law living with us, and the car my husband used to drive 7 miles back and forth to work dying for the final time. Let's just say I wasn't too upbeat at that time, had to get both boys dressed, fed and into my car by 8:15am every week day to drive the breadwinner to his job. I had to repeat the trip at 5pm, so this made for four drivebys of the Methodist church, which by now had a new pastor. Plus a large sign advertising Wednesday Brown Bag Bible Study---All Are Welcome!!
After seeing this for a week or two, I figured the sign was a not-too-subtle message from God to me. So I made arrangements for the boys and started to attend, never dreaming the road it would carry me on, or maybe it was a river, a river so deep and so wide I could float without fear; I could sing new hymns and dance in church and be myself and oh, so much more. But I didn't officially become a Methodist for another year or so, however, that is another story for another day.
Thanks to NanceMuse, for asking.