It was just after Easter that I started to think about getting baptized. I had never been baptized before, not even as a baby. My parents decided not to teach me about God or religion because they thought I would be better off making a decision about what was right on my own. My father was baptized into the Catholic faith and my mother was baptized into the Mormon church.
As a child I went to the Mormon church on and off with my grandma. She was a Mormon and it was her whole life. I don’t remember a lot of about going to church, except that you got little cups of water and little pieces of bread. Which was much better than listening to the man talk for what seemed like hours. I must have liked it well enough though, because as I grew older I began attending a Mormon church near my house with sister. By the time I was 12 I was seriously considering getting baptized into the Mormon church for my 13th birthday. For some reason I changed my mind, and I was never baptized.
So the thought of getting baptized as a Christian was exciting, but scary. I didn’t feel like I was really a Christian. I wasn’t even really sure what being a Christian meant. I was starting to understand who Jesus was and I had given my life to God. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to make a big commitment like baptism though. It seemed like a pretty big deal. What if down the road I changed my mind? Maybe one day I would not want to be a Christian anymore. Who knows, right?
One of the great things about going to church was growing a new community to be a part of. Something I had been longing for, for years. I was starting to meet lots of people and make friends, for the first time in more years than I could count. I was at a picnic for a group of couples at church when I first talked to our head Pastor. I told him a little about my background and he asked if I was going to get baptized. I told him I wasn’t sure, but that I didn’t think I was ready. I felt like I needed to think about it longer, wait until the time seemed right.
The Pastor got very excited about the prospect of me getting baptized. He compared getting baptized to getting married. It is making a commitment in front of the whole world and professing my love for Jesus. And sometimes you get nervous about jumping in and making that commitment when you get married, but you are all in. And just like a marriage, sometimes you go through ups and downs. But you are still committed to making it work. It made sense. Was I really ready to commit my life on that level?
I guess I was. I called the church the next week to schedule a baptism for myself, my husband and my 12-year-old son. And it was going to be just a few weeks later and we had all decided on baptism by immersion. That means we were gonna get dunked.
The weeks leading up to our baptisms went by quickly. I really felt that I was not a Christian until I was baptized. I asked for a cross necklace for Mother’s Day, which was about a week or two before the big day. I was worried about wearing it because I didn’t think I was worthy to wear it yet. Kind of like wearing that wedding ring before the actual ceremony.
We were becoming more and more committed to this walk of Christian faith. For two people who had been going to this church for exactly 3 months, we were really diving right in. We decided to take the New Members Class at church the day before our baptisms so we could become members. So 3 months in = committing our lives to Christ, getting baptized and becoming members. Whoa…
It was a spectacular Sunday. We had to arrive at church early to receive our certificates as official members and be welcomed by the congregation. This was at the first service, which we didn’t normally attend. We were to be baptized at the second service and had invited our family and friends. We put on our bathing suits and waited patiently as the service began. The church had gotten out its special pool at the foot of the stage and it was ready and waiting.
When the Pastor called us up, there were only 2 others being baptized besides my husband, son and myself. We formed a line and I was going to be third! We each took a turn to give a brief testimony about why were getting baptized. It was very moving and it helped me to solidify why I was doing this.
When it was my turn I walked down into the water as nervous as could be. I had the head Pastor and an assistant Pastor, one on each side of me, to hold me and bring me back into the water. They spoke words over me that I was now being tattooed with the blood of Christ forever. Wow. I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel different or not – you know experiencing something so big. I watched as my son and husband were immersed and prayed over, giving their lives to Christ forever. It was amazing.
I was on top of the world. But what did it really mean? Was I going to change? Was I going to be a different, better person now? We all went home and had a celebration party with friends and family. I was told I was glowing. It was a really amazing moment. Of course that feeling can’t last forever. It was just the next day I would get into a huge argument with a friend. I was filled with anger and selfishness. Then I wondered, how could that be? Wasn’t I supposed to be different now? I stopped myself there. I knew God deserved better than this anger and strife from me.
I prayed and asked God what to do about the problem with my friend. In that moment I learned something very important. Joy in the Lord. In life, there is truly no joy, except in our Lord. He is the source of all joy, and everything here on earth is designed to distract us away from this. So I praised Him. I loved Him. And He eased the burden of my emotions. This was transformational in my life.
Always before when I had problems with other people the emotions would be almost crippling. I would be plagued with anger, rage, malice, etc. I would obsess for days about how wrong was done to me. I’m not saying I didn’t obsess a little. But it was different this time. It was so much easier to bear. The weight of it was not crushing me. For He was bringing me a new sense of understanding. And it was nice.
And that was just the beginning of the changes that I was going to experience.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4