My Baptism Story

Hayley

It is exactly one year since I got baptised, today on the 19th of November.
And I have only really decided to write about it until now because my faith journey, like many other journeys has been a confusing one. Leaving me reeling with many questions and thoughts, such as:

Why did God decide to reach me at the ripe old age of twenty?
Why do I feel a sudden pull, to pray to a God I can’t even see?
Am I worshipping God the right way?
Should I lift my hands higher in worship? Will He give me a high five in return?
Aw, dang my eyes didn’t close in worship at church. Was I really worshipping God?
The worship leader says to sing louder in the service, but I barely know the melody let alone the words with my eyes shut.
Nah, I haven’t read that story in the bible yet. Should I have read that already? Am I behind?
*Silently rehearsing prayer in group prayer* – worrying I’ll speak way too laid back with God and end with “Okay cool that’s all, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Is this the Holy Spirit? No wait, this must be it– hang on is it this tingly feeling or am I just experiencing pins and needles?

It’s a whole other world I entered into as a baby Christian in 2016. An environment where everyone’s spiritual health and relationship with God is of the upmost important priority of care in the community. It felt like a warm, loving hug to meet people who wanted to pray for my ill physical and mental health issues, family issues, dreams and aspirations. These friends I have made in the Christian community are people who genuinely care for my soul. There’s something beautiful about someone asking if they can pray for you after you open your heart to them. And there’s something even more beautiful in the way people genuinely talk to God when they are in the midst of praying an unabashed love letter to Him.

In every year so far in my relationship with God, there has been varying levels of insecurity of whether I’m good enough as a daughter in Christ, or being simply good enough for the Christian friends in my community. Throughout all of this I feel like God has been teaching me to find strength in the person He made me to be.

When I decided to follow Him I felt like He was challenging me to live as the most authentic version of myself because He knew that it was something I feared deeply.
The thought of letting everyone see me for the quiet, introverted, sensitive and awkward person I really am, really scares me. Growing up in a school system where the loud kids are praised and the naughty yet funny kids are put on a pedestal, I felt completely ignored and left behind. I had no teacher in my upbringing recognise my strengths or see how I was drowning in my own self-hatred at the time. From the way I was treated in school by teachers and fellow peers, particularly in primary school, I deemed that I was an idiot and that no one should like me anyway. High school then came along where surprisingly the work got easier and the teachers were easier to please. All I had to do was stay quiet and complete my work. So I did just that.

In university I did my absolute best to smother and bury the true version of myself.
I saw all of these older adults in my music degree being confident, loud and very expressive in their own individual selves, so I tried my best to match their energy.
I decided that I would much rather be like them because my real self was something I thought should be fully hidden, never shown to the people I loved and respected. If I wanted to be a good friend I should do the world a favour and hate myself for being the idiot I thought I was.

This deep seated hatred of myself has been going on for 17 years, and I’ve only recognised now where the seed was sown and watered in my upbringing. But this year in 2018, God has helped me come to the conclusion that I have no reason to drown myself in self-hatred any longer.

From day one in my life as a Christian, I feel like God has been going through different aspects of my life with a fine tooth comb, willingly untangling the knots I’ve always feared to untangle. It’s funny, becoming a Christian hasn’t made me a different person in the sense that I’m completely unrecognisable to myself, in fact I feel way more familiar and comfortable within myself instead. God has been teaching me how nourishing and sustaining the act of love is when it’s both given and received in equal measure.
Through His way of loving me, and blessing me with a loving community of diverse family and friends, I am on the way of being more accepting of myself for the first time ever in my life.

I am finally allowing myself to be the introverted woman with a quirky sense of humour, with such an acute sensitivity to the world that only now I’m learning to embrace.
I’m learning that it’s okay to be a sensitive and emotional person even though some people can find it quite confronting and awkward to be around. I don’t see other people’s repulsion towards myself as purely my fault anymore, and that is a sweet freedom I’m finally allowing myself to experience. God has helped me finally cut the ropes I’ve been tying and forever tightening around myself for the majority of my short lived life.

God has shown no fear or hesitation in approaching difficult aspects of my life, whether it be with my mental health issues, or even with family issues that have really froze me overwhelmingly in my tracks. My relationship with God in the past few years has been like breaking into a new pair of shoes, I just wasn’t fully aware of how literal the breaking in would feel like. God has been demolishing the dysfunctional aspects of my old thought processes and ways of processing emotion, replacing them with His own love and beautiful grace. When I read the gospel and began learning about God’s love for humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was the first lesson in forgiveness I ever properly took in.

The thought that my sins were forgiven through Jesus’ death on the cross, really shocked me. My first thought was, why would He want to save someone so flawed like myself?
Initially I didn’t think I was worth saving at all, so I was intrigued to to actually read more into what it meant in Luke’s version of the gospel. The day I first finished reading it, I was in a shopping centre food court and I remember looking up from my bible thinking, He died for this?!

I remember being genuinely confused about what was so special about us as a humanity that God thought was worth saving. I mean really, we don’t have cool super powers, we all lead incredibly average lives. So incredibly human. I learnt there and then that I had a long journey in being able to love myself for the human I am, but more importantly I learnt that God’s Love for us all is so encompassing and inclusive that we can never fully fathom it for ourselves in our mere human minds. He’s here for us in the whole humaness of it all.

He showed me that he was ready to take on my imperfection and fears, that I couldn’t bear the weight of on my own. And He continues to show me that to this day. Even when I think I am too much trouble for Him, and that I worry I pray way too much to Him, He responds in love through the people He has planted for me in my life. His calm sureness of where He’s guiding me is what keeps me going.

I decided to get baptised last year after one year of being a Christian because I felt ready to affirm my life with Him. I felt ready to continue my journey with Him, because He had shown me a strength and boldness in the way He was prepared to lead me through life that I could have never mustered on my own.

Despite my childhood fear of being dunked in water, and despite slipping over afterwards in a hallway on my way to the bathroom (acquiring my baptism bruises as I like to call them), it was a really special moment for me.

My baptism photo depicts two things:

  • A young woman who is sitting absolutely drenched in a blow up pool, with messy unkept hair.
  • A young woman who was making one of the most integral first steps for herself, in living a life with more love and acceptance woven in the gaps of her tapestry.

 

 

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