On January 3rd I was baptized. I want to share my story so everyone can understand my choice at 44 to do this.
My parents chose to have me baptized as an infant in the Catholic church. It was their choice as my parents and it had a lot of meaning. I grew up praying and studying the Bible in school; I had a lot of teachers that were nuns (awesome nuns). At some point, however, due to divorced parents and such things, I walked away from my faith for about 20 years. You might say I even went as far as becoming an atheist.
When I became a Christian again at 29, I was hesitant to get baptized because I had already done that as a baby and I didn’t really understand why it would be significant to do it again as an adult. As time went on and I studied the Bible more and more I started to understand the importance of me choosing, on my own, to publicly declare my love of Jesus in a ceremony called baptism, but I felt it was too late and I was too old. I felt this way even more so after my kids were baptized in 2007. I had let too much time go by.
So what changed? I used the following story to explain. When I was in University in Santa Cruz I owned a motorcycle. Back then there was no helmet law. I would not wear one because I didn’t want to be uncool. The truth was it scared me not to wear a helmet, but I was young, and cool was more important than safe. Soon a law was enacted and I HAD to wear a helmet. Publicly I would never admit it, but I was relieved and happy that I was having to wear my helmet.
Recently, our church has become a new church (If you want more on that I wrote about it here). After 11 years of Youth Ministry I was faced with a new requirement; they ask that leaders be baptized. I thought, “Oh good, I am.” Then the definition of what that requirement entailed was put in front of me: baptism in water by the individual’s choice (not their parents’ choice). At first I realized I would have to admit to my friends and family that I had yet to be baptized (most were shocked – including my boys). Mostly I felt like I did when the helmet law was enacted, “Yes! Now I can be baptized and I’m out of excuses.” The truth is, I felt many times over the years that God was calling me to be baptized, but I kept thinking I’d look silly or it was too late and I chose disobedience. I’m willing to say out loud that I’m grateful to Westgate Church for having this “rule”. It is a blessing.
So here I am baptized. I chose to be obedient to God. In fact, I think that will be my motto for this year ahead – Obedience to God (apparently a lesson I need to work on). It wasn’t like I chose this because Westgate had a rule, it was more that I could finally do what I should have done years ago. It was because Youth Ministry is too important to me, for me to keep being a dummy about “being too old to get baptized”. I needed to be an example of what I had asked many students to do over the years.
Of course I didn’t do this the usual way (when do I ever do things like everyone else?). I invited mostly youth ministry people, and then some family and close friends. I wanted both my boys to be there, so I chose the Christmas Break. Because I wanted to choose the time, I decided to also pick the place – my backyard in our pool. The downside was that it was 45* water that day because we had a cold snap the week before. But it was worth it. The whole thing was amazing.
I learned that my fears of having waited too long were ridiculous. It’s never too late. Everyone was so supportive and loving. People cheered for me and got excited about God. How can getting excited about God ever be wrong?
If you are waiting, stop! Listen to God’s call if He is calling you. Get rid of all the excuses. Because that’s all they are, excuses. God Bless you all.
NOTE: All pictures were taken by my friend Lisa Unruh