An Imminent Conversion
It was around 11:00 am and I was in the bathroom at work crying. It’s never a place you want your emotions to spill over, but these were happy tears. I had been scrolling through a photo library to find a picture of a friend to wish him happy birthday and saw a video that my mom had just uploaded of my best friend and her fiancé in Miami saying, “Congratulations on your engagement, Renee and Michael!”
I immediately texted my friend saying we couldn’t attend our usual daily mass over lunch. I had to buy a new dress and do my nails because I was getting engaged! We stopped at Nordstrom Rack and found a beautiful long-sleeve, teal dress that tied across the top of my back in a large bow. I got home after work and carefully painted a coat of pale pink polish over my fingernails.
The next day my boyfriend proposed in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and then surprised me at a restaurant filled with all our friends and families. A couple weeks later we set the wedding date for December 12, 2020. The COVID-19 virus had already reached Washington, D.C.
Planning a wedding in the midst of a global pandemic was very challenging. During a period of so much loss (including the passing of my grandfather) it was difficult to think about something so happy and lively as a wedding when the world around us seemed to be caving in.
In prayer though, Michael and I heard something very powerful: that someone (or someones) would have a dramatic conversion at our nuptial mass. Our wedding would be the stage for God to work his powerful grace in someone’s heart—and we would likely know that person, since it was our wedding after all!
As September rolled around, it was clear that our mass and reception would look different than we first imagined. While there were many unknowns, we also heard in prayer that the date of December 12, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was the day meant for our marriage.
When the planning got stressful and overwhelming I remembered that this wedding wasn’t only for us, it was for someone else’s conversion too. We continued to plan a mass with both reverent and traditional aspects, complete with a hymn to Mary after the Liturgy of the Eucharist and scripture readings that showcase the new covenant of Christ and his Church reflected in the sacrament of marriage.
Three weeks before the big day I was increasingly stressed over our quickly dissipating guest count, but I knew God wanted this wedding to change someone’s heart. Thankfully, I got a much-needed break from wedding planning to attend and be bridesmaid in my Maid of Honor’s wedding on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
As my friend stood on the altar and recited her vows to her best friend of ten years, I realized that as joyous as this day was, she was also accepting a call to die to herself and serve her husband first from then on.
At the reception I sat with my fiancé and one of our close friends. Michael shared our excitement about someone having a conversion at our wedding. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully through our friend during that conversation as she said:
“That’s beautiful, but what if the person meant to have a conversion at your wedding is you?”
Immediately tears welled up in the corners of my eyes. She spoke such truth into our hearts that there was no denying it. Ten months into wedding planning and preparation for our future marriage, and the Lord revealed that we were the people he would convert on December 12!
My bridesmaids prayed over me just moments before I walked down the aisle. I hardly felt their warm hands on my back and arms because I was so nervous. There was some commotion outside the room and within my heart, but I felt the Holy Spirit saying, “Be still.”
Moments later, the vestibule doors opened, I wrapped my hand around my father’s arm, and we walked down the aisle toward the man I was about to marry. I saw Michael wiping tears from his eyes. I knew we would be forever changed thanks to the God who wrote our love story and called us to deeper conversion that day.
Through a ten-month engagement during the spread of the most devastating virus the world has seen in a century, God’s voice resounded louder than the noise of countless burial services, small business closures, and churches locking their doors. We were reminded that conversion is a life-long process, and Jesus never abandons the ones he loves.
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Renee lives in Arlington, VA, and works for an international development firm in Washington, DC. She loves leading Walking With Purpose Bible studies at her parish and trying new cuisines from local restaurants. She has a Master’s in Latin American Studies from GWU and a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies from the University of Miami.