This article is Part 4 of Sister Natalie Shawver’s series “Born and Raised”…Or Not.
Gaining approval from our families is one of the most important things we can hope for, isn’t it? We hope they give their blessing for numerous milestones in our lives — our choice of college, our profession, even our mate. And, in some instances, gaining their blessing for our religious belief is among the list — especially for those who didn’t grow up in The Church of Jesus Christ.
“In reflection, I’ve always felt that I was overbearing with my family when I first met the Church. Rather than permit ‘the light of Christ to shine through me,’ in my zeal, I tried to push the Church on them. It took years of consistency and dedication to undo this. I learned a valuable lesson — that planting a seed, watering and fertilizing a plant doesn’t happen overnight and can’t be forced. The spirit of God must accompany this process (1 Corinthians 3:7-9).” – Brother Frank Natoli, Branch #1, Detroit, Michigan
We want them to feel what we feel; we want them to have what we have. But what happens when it takes time to gain their approval? What if they struggle at first? Do we quit shining our light? Do we stop watering the seed?
Like many in our Church, Sister Brianne Gehly, Erie, Pennsylvania, grew up in the Catholic faith.
“I had a lot of resistance from my family about attending the Church. I knew what I had felt and experienced, so I really had no doubt that the Lord was calling me into His Church but felt torn because my family was upset,” she said.
Despite the concern with her family, Sister Brianne followed the Lord’s prompting and was baptized in 2007.
“My family did challenge me when I was first attending, but thank God they have seen me grow (personally) in my relationship with the Lord. I can say my family has visited the Church this year! Praise God!” she added.
Sister Karen Pezzenti, Cincinnati-Morrow Mission, Ohio, had a similar experience. Growing up attending Catholic school in Youngstown, Ohio, and attending services each Sunday, faith was a priority for her family.
“My parents were truly brokenhearted that I left the Catholic church. As years passed, they began to attend when they would visit us in Cincinnati. I remember when I was ordained a deaconess, my dad gave a testimony stating that he never felt anything like he did that day and mentioned all of the love in the room,” she said.
Choosing to leave the faith they grew up in wasn’t easy, but over time, both Sisters Brianne and Karen, as well as Brother Frank, have seen the Lord work in their lives. It may have been just one interaction with The Church of Jesus Christ, but they act as ambassadors to their families and haven chosen their own path. They spread the seed, they watered, they fertilized. And most importantly, they haven’t stopped.
“And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.