Processing the Path: Baptism

I am sitting with Wiley [*waves], eating cheese and talking about the  December 12th. The day I get baptized.

“I thought that it would be a longer process,” she says as she puts another bite of the Barely Buzzed into her mouth and reaches for a bite of the Moses Stellar.

“So did I,” I agreed as I eye her peppermint bark. I feel a small pang of guilt, but I reach for the bark anyway. I break off a piece and take a bite. The guilt pang hits me again. It wasn’t about the bark. I look over at Wiley.

“Yeah… I thought I would move slower.” That was the truth. The pang lessoned a little but it was still there.

I thought that the path back to the Church would be a slow, methodical, study-based trek to righteousness. What it turned out being was a long-awaited reunion. We met again and found that we loved each other as much as we did in the beginning and now want to live the rest of our lives together.

Aren’t you going too fast?

Yes… and no. 

No, in that my relationship with God started when I was 9 years old and has lasted for some 26 years. While I have not been to church in a decade, I have a solid foundation in the Bible and I have worked to live by it and teach my children to do the same. I have tried to live a life of service, which the only thing that ever truly made me happy, and I have shared what has worked in my life, based on the Scriptures.

But then there’s that pang of guilt, the ‘yes’ answer.

This goes back to the adage that you never forget your programming.

I was taught that to truly be baptized, you had to earn the privilege. You had to study (in my case, over a year and a half covering two complete books). You had to prove that you were faithful by being at every meeting and being in the Theocratic Ministry School and giving a ‘talk’ once a month.  Show your righteousness by being out in field service (you know, when we knock on your door on Sat. morning? …. Yeah…) at least 10 hours a month.

Then, and only then, you could be qualified for baptism. So an hour class with Scriptural consideration leaves me feeling empty. It makes me feel as if I should know more about my new chosen path. That I should have gone to the services for a few more months.

But it also makes me feel as if anything is possible.

Processing the Path, part 1: blah, blah , past, blah….

I thought that for the weeks following the fiasco at Mardel’s,  I would talk about all the little signs and notes that have told me that I am on the right path.

I thought I would talk about the moment I heard the call, when I had Isaiah 30:20-21 tattooed on my arm and finding that three months later, the first sermon proper I went to was about that scripture, which marked the path and a lesson.

The subsequent sermons that have been summed up thusly… turn around… pray… forgive… and wait for your external assignment. In the meantime, pray… study… be humble… lose the ego… and serve, Serve, SERVE. This is your internal assignment.

I thought that I was going to talk about this. But those words wouldn’t come out.

I want to talk and perhaps process what is scaring me about this entire process. I think that taking a bit of time and meditating on where I have been might deepen my appreciation and clarify where I am going.

So let me open like this: I have always believed in God (but so does Satan, so that’s not saying much…LOL [James 2:19]). I always believed in the power of the ransom sacrifice, deliverance through this sacrifice, and that he heard those called to him through Christ. And for years I thought that he heard me.

No… that’s not right. Well, that’s right but it’s not the complete truth. I was in love with God. I loved the fact that there was a mind that had the humor and sense of beauty to create the dark night sky full of stars, snapdragons, and the mountains and green you see on road trips. I loved the fact that he had created my mind that I used to write, which was and still is one of the things I love to do. I loved that there are flavors that could be tasted, changed to taste a totally different way and that there were so many of them. I love that he gave humans the mind to create Nutella and bacon.

But then I lost that in the haze of disappointment at the things that I saw that I thought that God should have corrected. I was seen and treated like a second class citizen based solely on my sex. I saw the emotional abuse of women by the very men that were chosen to lead us. I saw women do anything, including fight and neglect their children, to ensure that would get attract that man in religious power, only to find out that that man’s eye’s, hands, and other things were on their young daughters.

And sadly I saw myself do the same thing. I felt the desperation and believed the leaders when they told me that the only reason that my children were so well behave because of God because I had nothing to do with it.

I started to believe that if these men were the men that God would choose to lead and represent him, then what they saw and what they said was what God saw and said.  God would not take these away, teach them a lesson and I watched as they hurt people. So I thought that this was what Church was about, and in some ways what God was about.

So I left the Church to find myself… with or without him. I would learn that I couldn’t…