2 years ago today (October 21), I was baptized for the second time. Yes, you read that right. I've been dunked twice. I never told the story, though.
When I was first baptized, I was somewhere between 6 and 8. I honestly do not remember. It was after vacation Bible school. We had been handed those little cards with the "ABC's of Becoming a Christian" (admit, believe, confess) on them. Then, we were taken into a room when our age group and given another little card that asked if we believed in Jesus. Those who marked "yes" were told to repeat the "sinner's prayer," and were later baptized.
(Side note: looking back, I find this so problematic. It's pressuring kids into making a life-long decision at an age that they believe anyting authroity tells them. Kids know they believe in Jesus because mom and dad do. They don't know that it's a lifelong commitment to die to self and follow him. It's about more than bringing rights post-VBS to say x number of kids were saved. Children should be taught about Jesus and what it means to be saved, but not pressured into "becoming a Christian" this way. Rant over.)
As a young child, I grew up going to church and vacation Bible school. Every year, we would spend a week at Granny's for VBS. Most of my childhood memories revolve around church. I remember singing the Hippo Song, homemade ice cream night, learning new dances, making crafts, and so much more.
When the VBS card asked if I believed in Jesus, I marked yes. I had learned about him my entire life. Of course I believed in him, especially at such a young age. I was later baptized, and I do not remember a single thing about it. A lot of people can't remember their childhood, but I remember so much, just not that.
I didn't think much about it for years. I went to church, hung out with my friends, took some notes, and went through the motions. I thought about it at the first Mission Fuge camp (9th grade) I went to, but wrote it off in my head as emotions from "cry night." (Separate post coming on why cry nights are so problematic).
Later in high school, one of my friend's mom's asked about my walk with Christ and baptism. Talking to her made me realize that I really didn't mean anything by it. I was young. All I truly knew at that point was Jesus gets you to Heaven, and I believed that he existed. She tried to talk me into getting baptized again and giving my life fully to Him instead of simply going through the motions, but I wasn't ready. Doing it because someone else wanted me to was something I knew I would regret. I told her I needed to really think about it and study for myself before making that commitment.
Then came college. I got more involved in church through the Christian Student Center at UNA. College is awesome because there's a church activity of some sort going on almost every night. I enjoyed the CSC at UNA, but the college wasn't right for me. That's when I made the best decision of my life and transferred to MSU. At MSU, I got invited to the UCSC Bible Class and ice cream party to celebrate the first day of school. I had so much fun, that I did the rest of the "blitz week" activities and signed up for "rookie retreat."
This is where it gets serious. At rookie retreat, Perry was asking people for their baptism story and how much they promised to give their life to Christ. Most answers were about how they were baptized at camp or after a youth trip, much older than I was, and about how they were so committed to Christ and knew they were giving their life to him. Y'all, I was praying he wouldn't call on me. I would've said something like, "well I was too little to remember it, but I kept going to church." Now, there's not a specific age you should give your life to Christ, but I know that I was way too young to make such a big decision. After the lesson, we split into prayer groups. I prayed about this and talked to the girls in the room, but once again, I didn't want to do it because I felt emotion or pressure to. I wanted to make a logical decision.
After rookie retreat, I decided to study for myself. I reflected on my childhood decision, things I had been told by others, and everything I was taught growing up. I decided that I knew being baptized into Christ was something I needed to do. I felt lost for years, questioned my faith, and went through the motions. At fall retreat, we focused on prayer and had some personal study and reflection time. I spent time praying and studying, then talking to friends before making this decision.
In typical night-owl Whitney fashion, I was baptized around 3 a.m. at Sardis Lake Christian Camp. This was the single best decision I've made, and I knew it was important for my relationship with Christ.
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name. Acts 22:16
Thanks for reading my story! I hope it was encouraging. The past 2 years haven't been all sunshine and rainbows, but knowing my identity is in Christ makes it easier to give the trials over to Him.
Have a blessed day!