What does it mean to be converted? I suppose it means to most having a testimony of certain things and of the gospel right? A testimony that you are living your life the way Christ and Heavenly Father would want you to live it and to know without a shadow of a doubt that these things are true. Sound about right? Well, in a nut shell. So, how do you know if you have reached that conversion point? What are the signs? In short, we are all converts to the Church. Meaning, even if you were born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you may not have been converted. Thus you are a member, but not a convert. At some point anyone who is a member of this church or any church for that matter has to become converted to the truth of what they practice.
Hi, my name is Desiree Ryan, and I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for my entire life. I am almost 43 years old and until recently, I was not a convert. I thought I was at one point, but I think I was just borrowing someone else’s testimony. I am not sure, even now as I write this, that I can say that I have been fully converted to the gospel yet. I think I’m closer than I have been in the past. Here is what I know, my testimony as it is at this point. I know that Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins so that we could all return home to live with our Heavenly Father, I know that his Grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before him. I know that I have made many mistakes and will likely make many more but I also know that his Grace has already saved me, but that being saved is not the question. By virtue of his amazing gift he already saved everyone. However, Grace without works is just an unused gift. Jesus paid the price, he gave us the gift, but if we don’t use it, it doesn’t make the gift any less ours, it just means that it is like a wrapped present that we never open. What good is a wrapped present that we never open? If you don’t know what the gift is and how it works, how will you be able to use it? The gift of the Atonement was meant for everyone, but we have our agency to choose whether or not to use it. Regardless, the gift is ours. I’ve used the atonement once in my life, well, twice now. But once that is complete. It was like taking 20 years of rocks accumulated in a bag and setting it down and walking away. Leaving it there and then asking myself why I carried it for so many years. Was it scary? Maybe a little but mostly it was peaceful and you realize that you didn’t know why you didn’t unwrap that gift sooner.
So why do we wait so long to set that bag of rocks down? Do we find all that crap we lug around to be somehow our identity? I think that is what it is. I think at some point we start to feel like we are beyond redemption. That somehow his atoning sacrifice didn’t apply to us? It’s so illogical when you actually think about it. Of course he didn’t leave you out of the atonement. He didn’t say, “this gift applies to everyone, except Desiree Ryan”. I mean really, that would be silly. So knowing that the gift applies to everyone, why is it so hard to actually go through the process? Well, in short because the process is hard. It isn’t easy, and it’s not meant to be. If it was easy, you’d just sin and then repent and then sin and then repent, and then sin again and it would be endless because it would be so easy right? I’m reminded of Laman and Lemuel in 1 Nephi where they go through that cycle repeatedly. Sin, repent, sin, repent, sin repent….ad nauseam. They would sin, then Nephi would chastise them and they would humble themselves before the Lord, and then be forgiven. It sounds easy when put in simple terms like that. But really it is not. It’s a process by where you feel bad about what you’ve done, you don’t desire to repeat that action, and you humble yourself before the Lord and are willing to submit to his will and not your own and that you will be willing to do anything that is asked to make the situation right if at all possible. Sometimes that is just a simple apology, sometimes you need to truly be penitent and go through steps to show how truly humble and repentant you are for the action. It may take time, but the healing will be worth the time and energy, and maybe even heartache you endure to be able to finally say that you’ve done all you can do and the Lord has forgiven you and he remembers it no more.
A lot of times it is our pride that keeps us from repentance and from true conversion. I love the idea that the Lord will make weak things strong unto us and his Grace is sufficient for all men. My favorite scripture is Ether 12:27 which states: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” All we need to is come unto him, open the gift and use it, and you will see amazing things happen in your life. The Lord cares for all of his children, and he truly desires that we all return unto him. He knows we will make mistakes. He knows it will not be easy. But I have a testimony that his timing is perfect. Everything happens in his time. I don’t question that now. Sometimes we don’t know why we have to go through certain things before he shows us the light. Sometimes, we think, why does so and so have it so much easier? Why did I have to suffer through what I did before I was shown the truth and the light? Because his timing is perfect, and when you reach that perfect timing, you realize, this is why. This moment right here, is why.
Over the last 5 or 6 weeks, I have seen the Lord’s hand and timing in my life. I have seen the fog lifted. I have felt his divine hand in everything, and yes I have suffered. I have heard the spirit speak to me and felt it in my soul. I have received hard and fast answers that even, pray as I might have before, I never received, not like this where the clearest answer was just plain as day. I always wanted to receive answers like that before and never could, and it wasn’t because I wasn’t righteous enough, it was because I wasn’t ready enough. It was because it wasn’t the right time. It was because the right people hadn’t been put in my path yet. When you receive, undeniable proof transmitted into your soul, you have then been converted. You then see things differently.
My conversion story starts with an invitation to sing. Something so simple, a small seed. Something so benign. It is planted with a conversation. It starts to grow with friendship and fellowship. It flourishes with the testimony of others. It blossoms with the Holy Spirit and promptings. It blooms and grows with humility and grace. It holds steadfast with repentance. Through the love and help of others, through the Grace of God, through the Atonement of Christ, I am converted.
Hello, my name is Desiree Ryan, and I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.