An Impossible Adventure

I never thought I’d become a Catholic unschooler. An unschooler? Maybe. A Catholic? Oh no! At one time in my life, that seemed impossible.

When Andy asked me to marry him, of course, I said yes. “But I’ll never become a Catholic,” I added. I had to make it clear. Just in case. What if my cradle Catholic husband had plans to drag me into his church?

I’d heard stories about the Catholic Church. Bad ones. The Church controls people’s lives. Tells them what to do. It’s just a big institution. similar to schools, designed to take away people’s freedom. Once you get entangled with Catholicism, there’s no hope for you. Much better to stay well away.

So I did.

And then our daughter Felicity was born, and 17 months later, Duncan joined our family. And despite not wanting to, I started thinking about baptisms. Babies are baptised. Why? Does it really mean anything? Or is baptism just an empty celebration that parents arrange because it’s the expected thing to do?

One day, I said to Andy, “If we were to get our children baptised, what church would you choose?”

He gave me the expected answer: “The Catholic Church.”

Did I want our children tied to the Church? Did I want to burden them with Catholic beliefs? I hesitated. Perhaps baptism wasn’t a good idea. Or maybe it was essential? I just didn’t know. Finally, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to find out more about the Church and what baptism actually is before making a decision.

So I arranged to meet the local parish priest. He was the first priest I’d ever spoken to. I felt a bit nervous. And a bit daring too. I was brave enough to meet a Catholic priest! What would he be like? Strange, for sure. But he wasn’t. He was perfectly normal. Kind and friendly and willing to help me.

“I’d like to know more about the Catholic Church. We might get our children baptised.” And then I quickly added, “But then again, we might not.”

Yes, I was only investigating. If I didn’t like what I was about to find out, I would walk away. The Church wouldn’t get my children. I made that perfectly clear.

Although I was prickly and defensive, the priest pretended not to notice. He was magnificent. He smiled as if he met mothers like me every day of the week. He searched his shelves for a book that explained the faith for non-Catholics like me and gently offered an invitation to answer any questions at a later date.

It wasn’t long before I did have a question: “Can you baptise our children?” And then a few months later:  “How do I become a Catholic?”

So what changed my mind about the Church? God. He spoke to me as I turned the pages of the Catholic book. He showed me where to find the missing pieces of my life. He flooded me with love. By the time I got to the last chapter, I wanted someone to open the Church door and invite me in.

And so I became a Catholic.

Did I lose my freedom? Were huge burdens heaped upon my shoulders? Is my life dictated by the rules of the Church? No. I needn’t have worried.  The Catholic Church isn’t what I’d assumed it to be.

I didn’t understand Catholicism. I didn’t even want to. Then God began whispering the word baptism in my ear. That word led me on an impossible adventure.

Just like I didn’t understand the Church, maybe many people don’t understand unschooling. They hear the negative stories that are passed around. And they say: “I’ll never unschool!” But maybe they will.

When we’re willing to learn more, and then ponder with an open mind, amazing things happen. Impossible things. I’ve discovered that. Have you?


I’d love to hear about your impossible adventures. Perhaps you’re surprised to find you are unschoolers. Do you have a faith story? Or a family one? Maybe you’re investigating and pondering something in particular. Should you be brave and go where you’re being led? If you’d like to share, please do!

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Comments

    • Alison
    • January 17, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story, Sue. It never ceases to amaze me how people come to know our loving heavenly Father. When I was young, my parents took me to Sunday School but I hated it. I was so shy and I tried to pretend to sleep in on Sunday mornings in the vain hope we wouldn’t go to church (a local Anglican one). It wasn’t until I met and became friends with a girl who invited me along to the Christian group at school in year 8 that I listened and learned more of who God is. After attending an ISCF camp with my friend in year 9, I realised that Jesus lived a perfect life and died in my place to take my sins away so I could have a relationship with Him. I could never be ‘good enough’ to get to heaven (I had always assumed I wasn’t too bad). I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and He has radically changed my life from a shy girl to a pastor’s wife.

    I began learning about homeschooling soon before we returned to Australia in 2014 (having been overseas missionaries for 6 years), was drawn early on to unschooling and have been on an amazing learning adventure ever since – just as my mind is constantly renewed by God’s Word, my mind is also constantly deschooling and I am learning so much. I really love your saying of ‘Trust, Respect and Love Unconditionally’ – that sums it up for me. 🙂 I am so thankful for this wild and free life the Lord is leading me on – it’s challenging too but so rewarding!!

    1. Reply

      Alison

      It is indeed amazing how God uses different people and circumstances in our lives to draw us to Him. I’m sure He connects us together so that we help each other on our spiritual journeys.

      I’ve been radically changed too. I was one of those kids that lived on the fringes of school society with all the other misfits. Nothing special. No one took a second glance at me. But look what God had in store for me. A beautiful family. This ‘wild and free life’. And I’m sure He led me to this impossible blogging adventure!

      “…just as my mind is constantly renewed by God’s Word, my mind is also constantly deschooling and I am learning so much.” Oh, yes! I do feel we can never stop learning about both God and unschooling. Perhaps there’s a connection there!

      Your words are so full of joy. Oh yes, we have much to be thankful for. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    • Nancy
    • January 18, 2018
    Reply

    Good morning Sue, it’s always wonderful the way people find the Lord. I found the Lord as my savior when I was only 11 years old. Which was a wonderful thing because that prepared me to have someone to walk alongside me at the death of my father. The Lord has never failed me and he is always a light and a beacon in my life. I go to him everyday for things that I need challenges that I face and just because he’s such a good friend and has proved himself to be the father that I no longer have. Your story is inspirational and I enjoy reading all of your blog post. Hugs and kisses, Nancy

    1. Reply

      Nancy,

      Doesn’t God see to all our needs so perfectly? You lost your father, but He was there to help you. I lost Thomas, but God drew me so much closer to Him during that difficut time. Yes, He never fails us.

      Thank you for reading my story and sharing your own. Sending love and hugs back to you! xx

  1. Reply

    Hi Sue,
    I’m new here! I’m an eclectic homeschooling Catholic mom of six from Michigan in the U.S. I started homeschooling in 2002, and became Catholic in 2009. God first called me through the faithful witness of another homeschool mom. I was an Evangelical since childhood. It is a long story of how God called, and after a few years, I had the courage to answer.
    I love your blog and podcast!
    Kristyn

    1. Reply

      Kristyn,

      Welcome to my blog! I’m so glad you stopped by to introduce yourself and share your story. I’m pleased to meet you!

      Yes, God calls but we need courage to answer. You said your story is long. Mine is too even though it sounds like I answered God’s call quickly, it didn’t really happen that way. Looking back, I can see that God had been calling me for a long time. And even after I became a Catholic, I still had a long way to go. Lots of ups and downs, but I got there in the end. Maybe we’ll share more of our stories in future posts.

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog and podcast. I shall have to get back to podcasting very soon!

  2. Reply

    Great post Sue! I never thought I’d be an unschooler or have lots of kids. I never thought I’d have home births either. I wanted a very controlled and orderly life. But, like you, I was led in a different direction and I learned to let go of the illusion of control.

    1. Reply

      Venisa,

      It’s funny how we think we know how our lives will unroll and then we find ourselves doing unimaginable things! I didn’t think I’d have a large family either. I never had a home birth, but I can see what a wonderful experience that could be. Controlled and orderly? Wild and free is much more exciting! Thank you for sharing your impossible adventures!

  3. Reply

    Well, I was raised a passionately Evangelical Christian, living in PNG as a missionary’s daughter. My impossible journey has led me to leave the church!
    I still have a very big spiritual side, but it tends towards Buddhism now.
    I am an unexpected homeschooler and unschooler, but a very grateful one.
    My other impossible journey is being a parent as we were told we would never have kids…and we have two!!
    Great post Sue. xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Reply

      Jack,

      I don’t know very much about evangelical Christianity or Buddhism. I did some quick googling but now want to find out more.

      I wonder how your parents felt when you left their church. I don’t share the same faith as my parents. It can be difficult when God leads us off in a different direction from our families.

      Children are such a joy. I am so glad you experienced the impossible and were given two! Of course, I’m also glad you found your way to unschooling and that we became friends!

    • Anonymous
    • January 18, 2018
    Reply

    “I felt a bit nervous. And a bit daring too. I was brave enough to meet a Catholic priest!”

    Yes, I feel this way even reading about Catholicism! Or watching a Catholic program on TV. So silly sounding, but we Protestants are often raised with certain negative views on Catholicism, which persist into adulthood, and we end up feeling like it’s all taboo.

    However, the longer I homeschool, the more I find myself coming into contact with Catholic homeschool bloggers. And that has set me on a path to find out more about Catholicism for myself. Are we Protestants missing out? Are there ancient traditions, beliefs, that might add beauty and richness to our faith? Why do we still continue some traditions and not others? Are modern ideas always the wisest?

    So that’s what I’ve been investigating and pondering in particular lately. Which supports the truth of unschooling, that there are always new ideas or new ways of thinking about old ideas to discover. I suppose that’s one big reason why we continue to homeschool, because there is so much more freedom and time outside of a classroom to think about what you want to think about. What God has to say to you, where He is leading you. Space to question what is the best type of learning environment we can try to offer our children. I’ve often wondered if one of the reasons so many children fall away from the faith when they reach adulthood is the hypocrisy of telling children their relationship with God is the most important thing in life, yet expecting them to perform academically 40 hours per week, and pressuring them to get good grades, to get into college, to get a good job, so that they can make a good salary. There seems to be a huge disconnect there. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do think unschooling may allow the freedom of showing children how to live with God first, and following his direction in what to learn to support the gifts He’s given them.

      • Erica
      • January 18, 2018
      Reply

      Oops, the above comment was from me! I accidentally posted anonymously!

      1. Reply

        Erica,

        I can relate to all your questions. I used to ponder them too. I did lots of reading and thinking. Taboo? Oh, yes! I didn’t tell many people what I was doing. Investigating the Catholic church? What would they think of me? Was I crazy? Sometimes I wondered about that too. At times, I didn’t know what to think about the Church. Many of the traditions and rituals felt strange to me. Were they really necessary? They made me feel uncomfortable. Of course, now I feel right at home within the Church as if I’ve been here forever. I guess time and understanding helped. Now I see the beauty and the richness as you mentioned in one of your questions.

        “… there is so much more freedom and time outside of a classroom to think about what you want to think about.” That is so true! It seems to me that unschooling is the way God wants us to live. Yes, to follow God’s lead and use the talents He has given us. To trust Him. As I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into unschooling, I seem to be doing the same with my faith.

        Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your story.

    1. Reply

      Erica, I sneaked around reading Catholic books and listening to Catholic radio for years. 😁 It seems silly now, but my close family and friends were very anti-Catholic and I thought, Why upset them if it’s all for nothing anyway? Like Sue writes, it took courage to start that first conversation with a priest (who in these past ten years has become one of my dearest friends) because I expected to be pressured to “join.” But there was none.
      God bless you!

      1. Reply

        Kristyn,

        I was very reluctant to tell my family that I wanted to become a Catholic. I wondered if I could convert without telling anyone. Avoid all the upset feelings. Fortunately, the priest advised me to be brave and honest. I imagine it would have been very difficult to have kept such a large part of my life secret.

        God bless you too!

    • Rowanne
    • January 19, 2018
    Reply

    I converted to Catholicism about 8 years ago. I was raised in a new age household. My father is an atheist and my mother was a psychic. I came to Christianity after getting married and having our first child and then made my way to the Catholic church. My story is way too long to share here! My husband and I now have 6 daughters and an 18 acre homestead. I love the natural flow of the liturgical year and how it keeps us living the story of Christ through all of the seasons. I love the foundation the Church’s teaching give us to live on. And I love unschooling to give my children a home full of unconditional love! As a child, I honestly hated school and lived in a broken home. Unschooling/relaxed homeschooling has given me the chance to encourage a love of learning and a peaceful, loving home. Without my faith, our lives would not be the same! Praise God for the ability to live such a great life!

    1. Reply

      Rowanne,

      It sounds like you have been on a very impossible adventure!

      I often think about how the weather influences our unschooling. Life changes naturally as the year progresses through summer, autumn, winter and spring. And the same happens with the liturgical year. You are so right! I love your comment. I’m also thankful for a home full of unconditional love and a faith which is the foundation of our lives. Yes, we are living a truly great life. God is good!

      Thank you for sharing!

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