My decision to be baptized seemed like the most natural thing to do when it wasn’t staring me in the face. I grew up in the Catholic Church and was baptized as a baby. I jumped through all the hoops the Church laid out before me: baptism, communion, reconciliation, and confirmation. I never stopped to consider the implications of any of those actions. I wasn’t given a choice in whether or not I’d like to participate; it was expected. I went through life questioning the authenticity of God and His relevance for my life. It wasn’t until high school when a friend clearly laid out who Jesus is and what His sacrifice meant for my life. A month later, I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. At the time, I didn’t think that that decision would require much of me.
When I got to the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2006, that same wonderful friend dragged me to a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting, and thus began a huge transformation. I learned that my faith requires great sacrifice. It meant alienating myself from my family. They thought my faith was the result of a cult. My sister, who is four years younger, was particularly angry. (It wasn’t until this year, when she arrived at the University of Minnesota, that she softened. She even comes to Hope with me. And, miracle of all miracles, she found a Church community that she loves. This is important to my Baptism story, I promise!) For seven years I’ve lived two separate lives: one life dedicated to the Lord and one that feared my family’s judgment and disappointment. That fear was strong enough to affect me at times when I thought I was most resistant to it.
For the past five years that I’ve spent in Minnesota and at Hope, I’ve watched time and time again as people declared their faith through baptism and, for five years, I’ve longed to stand up and declare mine. Something always held me back. I’m great at making excuses, and I’ve made countless ones. “I want my family there…” “I don’t feel like getting wet today…” “I want to wait until they do it at the lake…” “They’re doing it at the lake next weekend, but I will probably have homework…” “It’s June in Minnesota – the lake will still be frozen…” This cycle of excuses and procrastination continued until last Sunday, April 4, 2011. Sitting in the balcony, next to my beloved little sister, God was sick of my excuses. I answered the call to get up and go forward. It was the longest walk of my life. It was also the coldest water of my life. A Polar Plunge for Jesus, if you will. The best part for me – my sister witnessed it. As the Lord tugs on her heart and beckons her to follow Him, I did the only thing I know how to do. I lived my role as big sister – I set the best example I could. I desire only to show her Jesus, and I hope that’s what she saw.
My baptism was a testament to my heart, my desire, my love of my Redeemer, and my love of a family lost. I declared, publically, my heart for the Lord, and I hope that, in the process, I was able to fan the flame beginning to burn in the heart of beloved sister.