I’ll update everyone later about more of my past, but today I’m happy. I was concerned that I would have nightmares, that I would be so nervous I’d make myself sick, that I’d have last minute doubts… that I’d get food poisoning and wouldn’t be able to go to church this morning…
None of that happened. For me, getting rebaptized was the best thing I could have done at this point. Rebaptized? Yes. I was baptized as a teen, but had fallen into a very legalistic, unhealthy church and mindset. I left that group a few years ago. Though I in no way felt that my teen baptism was wrong, I have felt that God might be prompting me to take this step. So, I wanted this to be a faith thing, and it very much was. I didn’t want it to be a denial of anything I’d already experienced, and it wasn’t. Baptism is a very important thing to me. I stayed in an unhealthy church, miserable, for nearly ten years simply because they were the only ones who baptized exactly the way they taught everyone had to in order to be saved. Baptism to me is huge.
Today the pastor mentioned several questions “someone” (me) had asked. Remembering those questions and answers at that moment was encouraging and reassuring. He also restated the meaning of baptism as signifying the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which holds a whole lot of meaning for me. Though those may all be common practice for him, the personal significance was very meaningful. The words he said as he baptized us were something like, “by the authority of Jesus Christ, upon your confession of faith and trust in Him, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” That was really terrific. Any last minute concerns I might have had were gone after the first person he baptized that way. The words were reassuring to me, if a bit foreign after nearly two decades in an unhealthy group.
For me, it feels like things have come full circle. When I joined my former group, I was told that I hadn’t really been a Christian before. But I was, and I couldn’t deny that. It put me on shaky ground. They told me one thing, I believed another, yet I believed what they taught about baptism and a few other things–the same things they used to say that I hadn’t been a Christian before I started attending their church. Things just felt out of kilter.
Over the last year and a half, there’ve been several times that it seemed like another piece fell into place and I regained a bit more balance. A few months after leaving, for instance, during an invitational at the church I then attended they led “whosoever will” in a “sinner’s prayer”. At my pew that day, I modified that prayer to a recommitment to Jesus, asking His forgiveness for my lack of understanding (through the years of trying to follow a church, organization or man, and trying to please people rather than Him), and asking His direction from that point. That was a wonderful day. It felt like the pieces reconnected somehow, that I could finally accept what had made a huge impact in my life as a child–accepting Jesus as my Savior (something strongly taught against in the group I’d been in).
There’ve been several other times that it seemed like a piece would fall into place–talking to a pastor and questioning him without being rebuked, leaving one church for another and still being accepted at both, learning what others truly believe and finding out that I agree… and etc.
But today was special in other ways. It meant trusting God enough to believe that being baptized as an act of faith and as a public testimony was not going to somehow “unsave” me. It was trusting others enough to go forward and trusting someone to baptize me, not knowing exactly what he might say or do. It was finding joy in knowing what I now believe and being assured of God’s grace. It was finding a place where I can belong, where I will be accepted and where people accept me. And it was finding that afterward, for the first time since leaving the unhealthy church, I felt completely comfortable raising my hands and worshiping any way I wanted, without questioning what others might be doing or trying to fit in. I don’t have to try to fit in. I just do.
That really has little to do with baptism in itself. Someone else will find that balance and that feeling of fitting or of all the pieces falling in place another way. No matter where or how that balance is found, I hope all of us who leave unhealthy groups find it. But for me, there was huge significance in this one simple act today.
For me it was just a very, very good experience.
Posted on June 12, 2011, in Christianity and tagged baptism, Christianity, cult exit, faith, finding a church home, healthy churches, rebaptism, rebaptized, testimony. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.