Telling My Conversion Story


Christianity Today photo shoot with Peter Murphy , Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey.

Reflecting upon the newly published summary of my conversion in Christianity Today, I see a few things that I’d like to expand upon.

First, there are lenses apart from a religious one through which to see the story of my tumultuous teenage life. A therapist might say I was reacting to traumatic circumstances: the sudden death of my 41-year-old father and associated losses combined with integration into a very different kind of extended step-family from my family of origin. (It’s clear to me, too, that my post-conversion terror at the idea of “losing my salvation” was connected to my early confrontation with mortality.) This lens is valid. But I believe God is at work in our circumstances. I’ve written here about how my circumstances led me to faith.

Second, as a mental health activist, I intentionally made reference to my own struggles with depression and anxiety. I lost the son I wrote about in this story to suicide and have other loved ones whose hopes and dreams have been derailed by mental illness. I stand with them, even though I haven’t seriously struggled with anxiety or depression since I was in my early 20s.

Third, I see myself in this story following the lead of other people–the guy in the opening paragraph, my parents and husband later on. I can’t make my history fit a feminist narrative that has me as the independent heroine, because that’s not how it happened. Besides, I also see my young self acting with considerable agency as I sought space and distance from my circumstances in order to decide where I wanted my life to go.

Ultimately though, the supremacy of love has long been my lodestar as a writer. If I’ve written this story well, readers should have a better sense of why that is.

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