Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sprinkled and Dunked: A Story About Giving Others a Chance to See

I grew up in a church where baptism was done as an infant. I was sprinkled on the head by my pastor when I was a baby. And all was well with the world.

But as I got older and had kids of my own, it bothered me that I had nothing to do with my baptism. In the Bible, being baptized made a statement about a person's belief in Christ. As a baby I hadn't done that. Would God take my commitment to Him seriously if I wasn't willing to make my own public declaration? I decided I wanted to be baptized again, this time dunked (immersed).

I wasn't sure how to tell my parents. I didn't know if they would understand. Their church didn't dunk. Would they think I was nuts? Would they take it wrong and be offended? Would they find me uppity and ungrateful? It wasn't that I thought my first baptism was wrong. I wasn't critical of the church I grew up in at all. I came to know Jesus through confirmation classes there. But I really wanted to profess that I was a follower of Christ. Being dunked seemed like a good way to do it.

I wasn't sure I could explain it, so I considered not telling my parents about it. I didn't take a chance of hurting their feelings then, right?

Unless they heard about it after the fact and hadn't been invited.

So I told them. I can't remember the conversation now, except for emphasizing that they didn't need to feel obligated to come. I thought my mom probably would, but I didn't know about my dad. I was pretty sure he'd find the whole thing a little crazy, maybe even radical. I told them about it and gave them an out if they wanted one. I was off the hook.

The day of the baptism service came and so did they. Both of them. I was nervous about sharing my testimony, about what they might think of what I said and how they may react to the actual dunking. Would they find me weird, think me off the deep end? Would they feel uncomfortable in a setting they'd never been in before? I swallowed hard, pushing the throbbing heartbeats back to my chest. I knew what I had to do and did it.

Afterwards I was so relieved, thankful we could all get on with our lives. But soon my dad, all alone, walked up to me, a strange look in his eye.

"I'm proud of you," he said and gave me a hug, which wasn't a common occurrence.

It's the only time I remember him saying that to me, not at any graduation or my wedding day or after birthing his grandchildren. "I'm proud of you" came at the baptism I almost didn't invite him to, the baptism where my goal was to declare my faith in Jesus.

Apparently he understood more than I thought.

Why am I so quick to assume others won't get my faith? Why do I think they'll find me nuts if I talk about what God's teaching me or saying to me or changing in me? Why am I afraid to look stupid? Why would I hesitate to invite people to watch me obey God, even if they may not understand it?

They might get it. My dad did.

My baptism reminds me to live my life as God leads and let others in on it. Pussy-footing around those we think won't understand doesn't let our lights shine, does it? We don't give them a chance to see God if they aren't there for it. I've got to share my spiritual life just like I share what's going on with my kids or how my day's going or what great movie I saw. Is there anything more important to talk about?

Who do you need to let in to your spiritual life?

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