Disenchanted

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DSC_0285My 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.

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16 thoughts on “Disenchanted

    Michele said:
    October 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    First, congrats sister in Christ!! I have tears in my eyes for you! Second, please don’t be disenchanted. I think in this world of technology, it’s hard for churches and everyone else how to interact with people. I think one thing many people are afraid of in new believers is to turn them off by harrassing them. They are really just excited but they don’t want to beat down your door either. I think this is especially true when dealing with Gen X and younger. At my home church in Charleston, they actually did away with the alter call b/c they felt it was too traditional and it turned people off that would be scared to walk down the aisle. So they just let people come to the front after the service to talk with someone. I rather preferred this personally. But I know my church in Chatt, while very contemporary, still keeps this very traditional aspect for their own good reasons. So while I’m not defending them, I would chalk it up to social skills or lack thereof of the 21st century. I think it would be good for you to share this feedback with them. And lastly, Christians are humans too. Never put your faith in a sinner because you will always be disappointed. As for core beliefs, if you ask Him in earnest belief and prayer, He will give you answers to your questions. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. Blessings!

      lahancock responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      The wisdom I needed at the right moment. Thank you.

    amylaree said:
    October 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    What a beautiful and honest story to tell. I grew up CofC, too, and very much relate to the defined structure of everything. Getting baptized was a big deal – I did it twice! Ha! That said, I no longer believe in God or the philosophy of the religion I grew up in. However, I still believe faith can be a very beautiful thing. I think you should really think about what the act of baptism would mean for you. Is it different than the acceptance of Christ into your heart? Would it change anything for you? In some aspects I think of it a bit like getting married vs. living together. You’re committed to the person you’re with, but some people want the symbolism of the ceremony & the paper. Others are like Kurt & Goldie and are comfortable with the personal commitment. (Bet you didn’t expect A Goldie Hawn reference to this post!)

    If you do decide that baptism matters to you, shake off the irritation and go for it. Honestly, I bet they’re not used to people who truly care so deeply. Maybe try to cut them a little slack – the gospel is all about grace. Or if you just don’t want to hang with them, go find yourself a lake or a stream or a bathtub and have your husband or a friend do it. Churches don’t have a monopoly on dunking people 😉

      lahancock responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Thank you. It came through, I just have it set to let me approve new commenters.

    amylaree said:
    October 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Man, I had a whole write up but not sure if it got through! Darn technology. Let me know if it didn’t come through… I’m especially proud of my Kurt & Goldie metaphor 😉

    amylaree said:
    October 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Okay, don’t think the first attempt worked. Booger. Let me try again…

    Such an honest a beautiful post. I grew up CofC, too, and definitely relate to the structure and symbolism of baptism and communion. That said, I no longer believe in God or the philosophy of the religion I grew up in. However, I do believe faith can be a beautiful thing.

    I think you might ask yourself what the act of baptism would mean to you. Would it solidify your acceptance of Christ or did the prayer do that already? I see it a bit like getting married vs. living together. You’re committed either way, but some people want/need the symbolism of a ceremony & the certificate. Others are like Kurt & Goldie and are super chill only needing the commitment they’ve made to each other.

    If you do want to be baptized, I see a couple of options. Shake off the irritation & lack of personal interaction and go for it. Maybe cut them a little slack – honestly they may not be accustomed to this meaning so much to people – the gospel is all about finding and giving grace. OR go find yourself a stream or lake or bathtub and have your husband or a friend baptize you. Churches don’t have a monopoly on dunking 😉

    Either way, if your heart is in the right place, your faith can surely grow. Thanks for writing such an open and honest post!

      amylaree said:
      October 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      Doh! Ignore this repeat 🙂

    LaShon said:
    October 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    YAY! So much is running through my mind now and my heart is so full. The best decision I’ve ever made was to follow Christ and become a Christian. This road is not easy, but it’s a beautiful one. Sounds like your road got a bit derailed with the email. Grace is good. Michelle’s words above are so true – don’t put faith in mere men. You will be disappointed every time. Faith in God, on the other hand, is way better – not that you won’t experience disappointment every now and then due to lack of understanding, but He will ALWAYS do what’s in your best interest. Always. I’m super excited for you and your husband, your marriage, your children!!! Your decision to follow Christ will affect generations. Now THAT is cool.

      lahancock responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks LaShon.

    Jenny Byrd said:
    October 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I really agree with Michele’s sentiments. I just think that’s the way a lot of churches are going because everything is so techy now. The church we go to has online streaming sermons and even “e-giving”! So crazy to me. But I also would think the church doesn’t want to scare away new people by showing up on their doorstep, overly eager to “rope you in” =). Definitely give feedback (via email??) to the church and maybe let them know that a follow up call or in person visit, or even a hand written note would be preferable and more personal after such a heartfelt decision. And I will pray you find a place to call home up there, having a great church community is one of the reasons we’d love to stay in Chattanooga. It makes a difference in our lives for sure! hugs!!

    Bekah said:
    October 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Leigh Anne, I had no idea! I am so happy for you, and would encourage you to press onward in spite of the church’s failure to be personal. Remember that they are people, too, and will fail/misunderstand at times. Let their failure drive you closer to God, and when you need a real person to talk to (God did create people to need other people, too) look to the Christians in your life who have proven faithful friends already. (((HUGS)))

      lahancock responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      🙂 well, I think my friends are all very wise. Thank you for being my friend for so long.

    KateC said:
    October 4, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Great post! I was raised Southern Baptist until age 10 or so. Then American Baptist for a year or so. Then Methodist for a few years. I went to a Jesuit (liberal) Catholic university for undergrad. And we now attend a Disciples of Christ church which I love. I was Baptized at 9 but I don’t think I truly knew what it really meant. There are just too many adult concepts to salvation/faith for me to think a 9 year old really truly understands it on any level that is not fairly concrete. I have a 9 year old, but I don’t think he is ready to make that decision just yet either.

    But I was raised in Christianity. I believed the stories and had scripture and lesson pounded into me. But I had never been exposed to any other way of thinking (outside of Judaism as the birthplace of Christianity). Until college.

    I had the most wonderful theology courses with a liberal and nature-loving Franciscan nun, Sister Rosie. She did yoga and healing touch (energy chakras) and taught classes about Feminism and Ecological and Quantum theologies. We meditated in class and listened to binaural beats of Native American drums. I am a woman of science and rational thought. I was taught to question everything even by my conservative Christian father. What I learned in those years in college helped shape my views.

    It’s all about FAITH, trusting in something that you cannot understand on a tangible level. And that is why it can be so different for so many people. It’s Why there are fudamental, conservative, mainstream and liberal Christians. What does it take to make YOU have faith that there is something bigger than you, than our earth, our universe?

    My dad always said “Believe. Be Saved. Be baptized.” It is an outward show of your faith. There should be fanfare! I feel that it is missing even at my own church. They do a bunch of kids (preteens) all at once. Not personal at all. I think it is just too typical in the Bible Belt and baptism isn’t given the degree of sacrament you are expecting or wanting. It should be a big deal. Maybe the leaders of churches need to be reminded of how big of a deal it really is! That emails and assembly line baptism are not what it’s all about. You know which churches get that part? African American churches. The praise and blessedness is salvation and baptism are much more outwardly experienced. I see it almost weekly on the posts of my AA Christian friends on Facebook. We can all stand to learn a lot by experiencing other cultures. Including other Christian cultures

    Good luck with finding our our own beliefs. It is a big deal. Maybe it just isn’t the right time. Or maybe it is.

      lahancock responded:
      October 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Kate…one you are a great writer, two, yes it is the assembly line fashion of baptism. Or the idea that they get to check off that they saved another one.

    […] into my heart at my brother’s church during a marriage conference. I blogged about that here. I have yet to be baptized, but I feel like that is part of God’s plan […]

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