I was baptized as a 12 year old after “accepting” Jesus. I remember the thoughts going through my head as our Pastor asked me all the questions. My tears flowed, my pastor and my mom thought they were tears of joy for having asked Jesus into my heart but they were really tears of shame. As they would ask me the questions, I would give them the answer I knew they wanted but all the time the enemy was right there saying Jesus could never love you, if they only knew the horrible things you did they would know that Jesus could never possibly love you. So, I was baptized for them, fully believing that I was too dirty for Jesus to know and love. I treated Jesus that way too, that even I was too much for him. I had no desire for the things of Jesus. In fact, I even resented him at times because I thought my mom had become a freak.
I was baptized again at the age of 20 after “re-accepting” Jesus. This time I was married and my life was anything but what I had ever dreamed it to be. I had been married less than a year; we did not have a job and we had no money. Our marriage was a mess, we were dependent on other people; I was miserable. I turned to God in the hopes that he would take me out of that place. If I gave him my life, he could clean it up and give me the things I couldn’t get for myself. I think within a week I was back to trying to figure things out on my own.
I did not know Jesus at 12; in fact I didn’t even understand that Jesus and God were one. My heart did not care about God except for that believing in him would make my life better, somehow. I did not know Jesus at 20 but I was desperate and it seemed to work for other people. I wanted what they had but I did not want my heart to change. I wanted to live my life the way I wanted and resented the fact that loving Jesus meant I couldn’t have fun now, that my life had to be stupid and boring if I followed him. I wasn’t angry at him for my life circumstances, for my abuse. I just wanted him to fix my situation, give me a better life without taking away my fun and making me into a freak.
I finally surrendered to God at 32 (that was 7 years ago). I was at the end of myself, not unlike the other two times I had “come” to Jesus. I was recently divorced, suffering from withdrawal from diet pills, sudden changes in the company I worked for (where I was getting my identity from), and the murder of a friend. I did not turn to God though for an easy way out, I turned to Him because He had always been calling me and I was in need of Him, completely. Yes, I wanted my circumstances to change, but I knew this was a total commitment of my heart, it had been captured.
So Easter Sunday this year was pretty amazing. Our church does a lot of baptizing on Easter and my husband is always the first pastor to sign up to do the dunking…he loves it! I watched him baptize close to 150 people last year. I’ve always figured after having been baptized twice, that had to be enough public expression of my faith. This Easter as I was standing up front waiting to pray with people, worshipping, and watching others be baptized, I heard “go”. My response was no. “Go”, no. “Go”, no. I then stopped dancing, stopped singing, and turned towards my husband who was still in the baptismal and just stared at him. I was paralyzed but felt ill. My stomach had jumped up into my throat and my heart was racing.
It was so clear to me; my other baptisms were about me. The first time, I was so self-absorbed and full of shame. The second time, I was so desperate and willing to do anything for God to change my circumstances. This time, it was fully about Jesus, truly for His Glory.
The look on my husband’s face when I walked into the water was precious; he was so emotional he could barely talk to me. I felt like I needed to explain why as a pastor’s wife I was just getting baptized. I summarized everything I shared here and then said I was feeling quite blessed to be baptized by my husband. My husband and Pastor Cliff then baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amazing! I came out of the water feeling so free and full of joy.