The Story of My Conversion
so great a Redeemer!”
I have been dragging my feet about telling this story and so I am going to just jump in and do it. Why has it been so hard for me to start this? I’ll tell you. I think it’s 1/3 procrastination, 1/3 pride, and 1/3 the work of Satan, who would much rather I not tell it.
So there you have it.
The reason I’m suffering from pride and procrastination is that it is not easy to expose the gunk that’s in one’s closet. It’s not pretty, nor is it a source of—here’s that word again—pride for me. I think that’s the point, however. I need to grow in humility.
Consider this. I made my first general confession when I was 23. It was a doozy—4 1/2 pages long with plenty of yuck and guck and embarrassment. Once I’d left the confessional, however, I was free as a bird and light as a feather. My conversion was profound and lasting…so much so that one year later, when I made a second general confession (of the past 12 months only) with this same priest, his advice to me was surprising.
He said, “Watch out for pride.”
It is so hard not to be prideful when you are on the path of righteousness! Especially when you see others who clearly are not on the same path. Satan tries to use my virtue daily to turn me into a Pharisee—and I have to be careful, very careful. Jesus came in forgiveness, not condemnation.
I’ll begin my story now.
God has done great things in my life, though I did little to deserve them.
I was born some 41-plus years ago in a little Minnesotan town. (We moved to North Dakota when I was two.) I was born the sixth of six children—the baby, the surprise.
Call it nature or call it nurture, but my placement in the family lineup was to have an effect on me. I was pretty much an obnoxious little extrovert from the get-go, and this aspect of my temperament has proved much the challenge—then as well as now.
I craved attention and loved the limelight, and even at a young age—though certainly I was not culpable in the strictest sense—I was selfish, spoiled and (worst of all) I could be mean.
I was mean, for example, to my dear little niece who—at four years my junior—was cuter and sweeter and in possession of a huge set of dimples & incredibly blue eyes. I was only five years old or so at the time, but the depth of my anger and envy were quite profound.
Poor little honey—I was so mean to her at times.
The only person who noticed my aggressive behavior and who really truly intervened was my best friend. The rest of my family was…I think…too busy to really notice what I was doing.
We are all born wounded and we are all born prone to sin. One of the greatest mistakes that we can make in raising children is to ignore them and to not correct their natural vices. We cannot assume that they will choose the good—and in fact, if we are not surrounding them with the things of heaven, they will choose for themselves the things of the world.
Which brings me to the most evil and destructive element of my childhood: I was exposed to pornography at a very early age.
My best friend’s father subscribed to several really bad magazines, and he left them in plain view. You know the rest, and I am so very saddened to think that my purity and innocence was destroyed just like that due to his neglect and our liberty. We were left alone with these images—time and time again—and I don’t need to tell you the damage that they did.
Well, thanks be to God Who, in His goodness, has been able to take this ugliness from my childhood and redeem it. Because of my past I am most sensitive to impurity, and discuss the importance of modesty with my children all the time. “Discuss” is the key word here—we cannot not talk about these things with our children. We shelter them from the world at the same time that we warn them openly…and we pray.
To be continued.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,