Hello! My name is Lauren Mckinnon. I am so excited to tell you guys my story! I am a convert to the Church and a huge mental health advocate. The majority of my posts will be about my conversion story, my current perspectives, and the use of Christ as a strengthener.
I come from a very different background and sometimes I struggle with finding where I belong in this Church. I grew up near Portland, Oregon and was baptized in Moab, Utah. Both of these places proudly harbor a lot of the dirtbag, hippie views I grew to love. Shortly thereafter, I moved to Logan, Utah and hit a culture shock like none other. Through my testimony and everyday experience, I know that no matter how different my perspectives and upbringing may feel, I belong in Jesus’ flock. I hope this can resound with you as well!
For Beautiful Little Jesse: Thank you for lighting the world with courage and kindness.
Sharing My Story
I have been asked to write this story three times.
My heart ached in the days coming and after. Sang it to anyone who would listen. Bled it all over the pages of scripture that I fumbled through so eagerly. The words tasted so good. I was sure anyone who read them or heard them would recognize the same sweetness I found. I wanted to share this beautiful gift with anyone willing to try it. I felt certain they would love the taste and fall in love the way I did that hot and dusty summer.
Time ticked by and I continued devouring the words, but sometimes they were not so sweet. Sometimes I found parts I did not understand. Sometimes I found myself in a place where I simply did not want to understand. Pride can be fickle and hard to shake, and as I moved from the beautiful home I had made in the summer to a new, foreign area, submerged in a completely different culture I had never known, my heart and my head often fought over who was right.
Honestly, I always felt like I was right. This is a battle I am still learning to overcome.
A New Home and Culture
In my new home, words were said that struck a chord. I watched people walk ways of life completely redirected from the way I was raised. My mother was full of light, with a kind and loving heart. My father had always watched over us and taught us morals he thought were true, so how did the sweetness of my upbringing harmonize with the sweetness of the truth I had learned, when the chords only seemed to crunch every time I met someone new?
My life, my childhood, my words, my thoughts, and my prayers all sounded and looked different from everyone else’s. The things I said, the way I dressed, my opinions, and even my simple mannerisms seemed alien. I felt alone.
The words stopped tasting as sweet. But I still loved them. I still read and learned how they fit like a perfect puzzle piece in my life, even when my puzzle seemed so different from everyone else’s. I clung to the truth I had learned when things were said that I did not understand.
In reality, it was not the truth that had lost its deliciously sweet taste — it was my faith. Heavenly Father knows us so well, but I think the other side does, too. I think the adversary played on my tendency to compare myself, my desires to fit in and have friends. I think he knew I still placed too much value on things that simply pale in comparison to the love of Christ.
And trust me, it is far too easy to compare when you are a homegrown Portlandian feminist who moves to small-town conservative Utah after being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for less than a month.
It was a culture shock to say the least.
Remembering Where it Began
And then I was asked again to share this story from a dear friend; a friend who shared some of those beautiful experiences with me that dusty summer in Moab. I smiled remembering how much I grew there and and how I had grasped the strands of love that God had placed before me. How grateful I felt for the blessings my Father had given me that summer. I remembered my friend’s smile, full of light and reassuring words of kindness: “From the moment I met you I knew you would become a member.”
The next Sunday, it was testimony meeting. As I stood before the same ward that I was baptized in, in the very same room I was confirmed in, my heart ached. I looked across so many of the same faces who had watched me take my first steps into the water and announce my love for Christ, my desire to follow and serve Him. So many of the same eyes were watching me now, almost a year later, share that same love I had clung to. I remembered how ignited I used to feel, how much I loved sharing my testimony with anyone who would hear it.
I was asked for a third time from a small, still voice inside me. Share the story.
As a homegrown Portlandian feminist, Lauren Mckinnon sometimes wondered how she fit in as a new member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — but through her testimony and everyday experience, she realized that no matter how different we may feel, we all belong in Jesus’ flock.