The Herald
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The Herald

The Inspiration Behind My Short Story: The Cross Necklace

By Katherine Kloepping

Recently, I published a short story in The Herald that tells the journey of a young sister missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints named Finley Ryan as she tries to reach a stubborn man about Christ. This story was for an assignment in my Creative Writing class and stemmed from a big event in my life that took place at the beginning of the semester: my baptism.

I don’t mean to throw my testimony at you, but I am going to do it anyway. I am a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it has been the best decision I have ever made.

Kloepping surrounded by friends at baptism

Although it has been a bumpy ride this year in general and the lead up to my baptism wasn’t easy, I have had the support of my friends along this path and when I made the decision to convert, everyone was there for me that day. It was hard making the decision because I was afraid of abandoning the faith that I had grown up in and I was worried about the fact that my parents are set against the Church (that’s a whole different and complicated story).

I was scared. It took an emotional breakdown and me texting the sisters that I needed scriptures for comfort. They were quick to respond with many verses from the Book of Mormon. At that time I wasn’t too thrilled because I was still figuring out if it was true or not. However, I willingly opened up my copy of the Book of Mormon and read the verses. They brought some comfort, but there was one verse that stood out to me.

Alma 32:36. This verse reads, “Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.”

It was at that moment that something clicked for me. The Lord wasn’t asking me to forsake my faith, but rather to trust Him enough to plant this seed, nourish it, and see whether or not it will grow. It was shortly after I read that verse that I started to think that maybe this book was true, but I wasn’t fully accepting of it yet.

It took a lot of reading from the Book of Mormon and the Bible, lessons with the missionaries, scripture study with my friends, and prayer for guidance. And I do mean a lot. There really wasn’t a direct answer from God telling me, “Hey, that book you’re reading and studying is true.” It wasn’t like that. How I got my answer was quite funny.

It was back in June. I was taking biology and it was pouring outside. I was standing by the back door downstairs of the Academic Center talking to my friend. We were talking about the Church and how I am not a member, but somehow I ended up admitting that the Book of Mormon is true. We both stopped talking and looking at each other with our mouths wide open. I was so shocked at how I just admitted something that I hadn’t even come to terms with myself.

Oddly enough, I had a lesson with the sister missionaries that day and texted them that I had something big to tell them. They were astonished when I told them the news at the lesson. I wanted to be baptized and become a member of the Church. And from that point forward we worked towards that day. It was not an easy time; it was such an emotional rollercoaster with family issues and personal problems that I thought I couldn’t do it. But then I realized that I needed and wanted to do it so badly that I knew I wouldn’t and shouldn’t allow anything to stop me.

When that day finally came, I was so nervous with all of the people that were there watching me, but all I knew was that it was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Now, has it been a smooth ride since then? No, it hasn’t been. I have made mistakes that I wish I could fix, but I have and will continue to learn from them.

Then I started my Creative Writing class and the assignment for writing a short story came and I had the inspiration to write “The Cross Necklace.” The story follows Sister Ryan and her efforts to reach a grouchy old man named Robert

The inspiration for Robert is based on my grandpa of the same name. My grandpa was a stubborn man who, towards the end of his life, didn’t want to hear anything about God. I never quite understood how a man could hate God, or anything, so much. He was born and raised during the Great Depression and he joined the Navy and fought during the Korean War. It wasn’t easy for him since he had to grow up during one of the most difficult times in our history. From these experiences, he gained a lot of anger and never hid it from the world.

What heightened my grandpa’s anger towards the end of his life was losing my Grandma Rose. He loved her so much and losing her sent him over the edge. He never forgave God for taking her away from him, despite her being in pain and wanting to be with the Lord. He turned into someone that I didn’t recognize.

Writing Robert’s character based off of my grandpa was hard because my grandpa never became a believer, but I have hope that he made it into heaven. Through Robert’s character, it was like giving my grandpa a second chance to come to terms with everything and believe in Christ.

It was quite an adventure leading up to writing this short story, but I have to say that it was one of the best moments of my life. This was one of the easiest stories that I have ever written because it didn’t just come from sitting staring at my screen all night. I was able to just write and then add whatever was needed for clarification and additional information later.

If you would like to read my short story “The Cross Necklace” is linked here.

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