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Despite growing up in the church, I can’t say I truly knew Christ until much later in my life. Every Sunday of my childhood for as long as I could remember involved going to church with my family. On the surface, I did everything that was expected of me. I sang the songs, closed my eyes during prayer, and donated quarters from my allowance in the repurposed empty peanut butter jars passed around during Sunday school. But I didn’t know Jesus. To me, church on Sundays was a free activity to pass the time.
When I became a teenager, my feelings towards the church turned from indifference to contempt. As a child, I had been equating Christianity with kindness and good deeds, but what I felt from those around me didn’t align with what was taught to me in Sunday school. I was getting too old for my parents to drag me to church and I didn’t want to waste my Sundays in a place where I felt judged and didn’t belong, worshipping a God I was convinced wasn’t even real, so I stopped going.
I busied myself with personal priorities like school, then my career, and I was proud I could rely on myself. I thought that if I wasn’t a terrible person and a contributing member of society, that should be good enough for me and everyone else. When times were good, it didn’t feel like I was missing anything in life. But when times were bad, I would be filled with anxiety and even the tiniest problems would make me spiral. When a string of really bad things kept happening, I continued to rely on just myself, and told those around me it was ok to rely on me as well. It felt like the weight of the world was crushing me. I was burnt out, fearful, angry, and there was nothing I could do on my own to make it better.
When I was finally out of options, on a whim, during the darkest time of my life, for the first time in over 10 years, I decided to pray. I didn’t think God would answer me, but I poured my heart out and admitted my weaknesses. That I couldn’t do everything all on my own; it was killing me and I needed help. To my surprise, God answered me. I felt His presence, and immediately all the anxiety drain from my body. All I felt was relief, love, and acceptance.
I needed to know more and truly understand what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. I reached out to my old children’s pastor and asked him for guidance. He suggested I join a Bible Study Fellowship. This was 4 years ago. Since then, I have been studying the Bible, and trying to better understand God’s word.
If the ladies in my BSF group ask me why I haven’t been baptized yet, I would always tell them I wanted to be sure. The truth is, I was afraid of baptism. Even though God has been in my life again for over 4 years, I feared my shortcomings would give Jesus a bad name. During my time away from God, I’ve met a lot of people out there who think the same way as I used to. They look at at Christians, see the imperfection of sin that plagues all of us, and blame God for it. I was afraid others would see me that way and turn away from God as well.
But something I realized recently is we are all a work in progress. I will never be “good enough”, and that’s exactly why I need Jesus. It’s the reason he died for our sins, and the reason I shouldn’t be afraid of baptism. I didn’t truly know Him until I was 25, but He has always known me. He knew I would leave, but He also knew I would come back. So today I’m proud to publicly declare that I am sure, that I am a sinner in need, and finally ready for baptism.