Last Sunday I made a major decision in my life, and got baptized. Here is a brief story of the day, and the times leading up to it, that I would like to share with you guys.
My parent's had me baptized when I was young. While I do not know the exact age, I know I was fairly young because, 1. I don't remember it, and 2. my dad said all I could make of the experience was "Pastor Gary got my head wet." If only you knew, little Vada, how much that water actually meant.
As I grew, life went on, and I was in and out of the church. I went through a class at my first church to be approved for baptism, and never went through with it. I am not sure why I never went on to be baptized, but it was not long after that decision that my family and I stopped attending that church.
Skip a few years ahead, to when I was 16. This was when I decided I was going back to church, parents or not, friends or not, I was going. It was easy, because I did have friends at the church. Each Sunday night, our high school youth group met in the basement of our church. It was there, that I actually began to form a true relationship with God and decided that never again was I leaving the church. I attended this youth group for two years, and thought about baptism the whole time, but never did it. I always had an excuse: I'm too scared, my family does not go to this church, my family does not go to any church, I don't need to.
The time came, when I graduated high school and moved away from my home town, that Sunday night youth group was no longer an option for me. At this time, I began attending a church on Sunday mornings with my older sister, her husband and my nieces. Around the time I started attending this new church, I joined The Salt Company, basically a giant youth group for college students, it's awesome. At my church, there were two baptism services, both times I was dying to take the leap, but I didn't. Both times the service landed on a day where my sister was not going to be there, bad excuse, but it was enough for me to back away.
All four of these times, where baptism was a very available option for me, were good times in my life. There was nothing weighing on me majorly or holding me back from baptism, but social fear. So I thought. Looking back at where I was then, compared to where I am now, or a week ago when God pushed me to be baptized, I see why I was held back before. I was not ready.
Somehow, there is this misconception floating around, that being a Christian is easy. That God's love means nothing bad happens to you, and He protects you from any hardships. That, is far from the truth. It took me a long time to understand this.
Constantly, I thought what I was doing was not enough, if it was, then why on earth was God punishing me? I became very insecure in my faith, I had times of pure anxiety where I would think to myself "If I died right now, I would not go to heaven" and I would pray, and pray and pray and get so caught up in the fact that I have not lived my life well enough, and that God was not holding a spot for me in heaven.
Until one day, I told a friend about my feelings on this. He told me that salvation does not look like that, God is not going to take my spot in heaven away from me, and He is not expecting a prayer to "make up" for every mistake I make, all He wants is the surrender of my heart. So, I went home that night, and I opened my Bible and read further on this. And then I prayed, the most relieving prayer I have ever prayed, and also the prayer that brought me closer to God than I ever had been before. I had prayed before and asked God into my heart, but it was such a routine thing. I was young, and the people at the church told me to do it, so I did. They gave me a hug and said good job, but there was no real connection. This time when I prayed, I knew what I was praying, I felt it, and I believed what I read in God's word.
Now, when I get scared, it does not last for long. I know there is scripture to turn to, showing me that God already has a spot for me. He is holding it in His hands, and nothing I could ever do will make Him change His mind. The pressure to be "perfect" has been wiped out. I no longer want to impress myself, or others, the only approval I seek is God's.
So, the fifth time baptism became an option for me was on February 7th of 2019. At Salt, they announced Sunday morning would be a baptism service and we could sign up online. So, I went home and I signed up. I had no clue why I was doing it, I just knew that I needed to. Impulsive? Yes. Worth it? Yes. I filled out the form, and a few days later I got a call from a worker at the church, thirty minutes later I was approved for baptism and basically jumping off the walls waiting for Sunday morning to come.
Sunday morning came, and I was the perfect mix of excited and scared. None of my family was there, not a single person in that church was related to me. My only friend there was, amazingly, the one who baptized me. Somehow, facing a room full of people I did not know, and giving them a short testimony did not feel as lonely as I thought it would. It did not feel lonely at all. I was not alone, after all, I was with my church family. A room full of, not strangers, but Christians; who were so excited for me and supportive of me in that moment, regardless of the fact that they don't know me.
God has changed my life, and if it weren't for Him, I do not even want to imagine where my life would be today.