My husband and I went to an awesome marriage conference this past Sunday evening at a local Baptist church. The speakers were Steve and Debbie Wilson and I felt very encouraged and inspired to do some things to improve myself, which would in turn improve my relationship with my husband and with my children.
I was so moved by the speaking, that during the invitation to accept Christ as my savior, I stood. My husband stood with me. You see, I’m a 32…almost 33 year old woman that has never been baptized. I’ve been to church off and on during the years. I grew up going to Church of Christ churches. As I got into college, I started attending a Methodist church with my future husband. As we’ve been together, we’ve tried Baptist, Methodist and non-denominational churches. However, throughout this entire time, I have never said the prayer to accept Christ into my heart.
Growing up in the Church of Christ, I always felt like I needed to know a lot more before I would be allowed to be baptized and be a good Christian. I always felt like I needed to be something more than I am before I accepted Christ. And I also felt like I might be judged by those that are not Christians as someone that was dumb or stupid for believing in the stories. As, I got older, it was always a bit embarrassing when the communion plate would pass by and I wouldn’t partake. In some churches, they allowed anyone to take communion. The first time this was possible was at a small Methodist church outside of Cookeville, TN. Our pastor invited us all to take communion and I started crying and ran out of the church, scared.
I’ve wrestled internally with what I should do. I have friends that are atheists, some that are Christians, some Jewish, some agnostic, some that are other religions. I have always believed in Heaven. I have believed that there is a God. I believed that Jesus was a real guy and that probably all the stories are true. I have read a handful of books on Christianity and Jesus. I think Jesus was probably a pretty good guy to be around. He treated people with respect. I just hadn’t said the prayer because I was scared. I guess of myself….of me not being the type of person that I needed to be if I accepted Christ as the savior and not entirely sure what it means now that I have.
I felt that it took a a ton of courage to stand up among hundreds on Sunday night. I was shaking inside. I whispered to my husband that I was scared. Afterwards, we went and spoke with one of their counselors. He spoke, I asked lots of questions, expressed that I thought it kind of sucks that people of other religions would not be welcomed into heaven if they didn’t accept Jesus as their saviour. I have a hard time imagining that there isn’t really one God above us all and that there aren’t multiple paths to Heaven. I asked to say the prayer again to accept Christ because I’m not sure if I really said it with truth in the auditorium. He explained that there isn’t a feeling associated with it, it is just a matter of saying the words and meaning them. We spoke more and I asked for maybe some more time to think about it again. I saw his head drop, his eyes lowered. I felt like I was frustrating him, maybe not. He explained some more stuff, I asked more questions, but then said, “You know, if I don’t say it now, I probably won’t come back for many more years.”
I bowed my head, held my husband’s hand and the counselor’s hand and held on tight. I said that prayer with as much meaning in my heart as I could, feeling like I was going down a path I couldn’t return on. And then it was done. My husband was so happy, he was beaming. I felt a bit shell shocked. What does this mean now? The counselor said I could be baptized in front of the church this weekend if I wanted. We said we couldn’t this weekend because my husband would be out of town. He said someone from the church would contact me.
We left the church and I turned to my husband and said, “Well, at least if I die now, I can see Papa Charlie in Heaven.”
Two days later, I got an e-mail from the church stating that I could “schedule” my baptism at one of their available times. An e-mail? A flipping e-mail. No phone call, no one on my door step welcoming me into the Christian family. I guess my expectations were wrong. Maybe this is something very routine for them, maybe they figure an e-mail is more convenient to contact, but honestly I feel hurt. It took a lot for me to open my heart, to become vulnerable and accept Christ as MY savior. Maybe I’m just saying “I” and “me” too much. This week I’ve been confused and not at all reassured in my decision. A few friends and my mother have brought some comfort but now I just feel disenchanted with the process and don’t really feel like going back to church. Perhaps I will just learn on my own for a while.