I got baptized this weekend.
I was so nervous.
The girl who quit her job to go to Iceland, the girl who woke up one day and decided to dye her hair blue, was trembling, shaking before she got baptized.
I’ve been attending The Summit Church (Blue Ridge) for about… 2-3 months. This past Sunday was different. I went to church carrying something I hadn’t in a long time.
It seems the closer I grow to God, and the stronger I get in my faith, the more I’m testing.
Yes, I said testing and not tested.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been tested. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. I’ve been thrilled at the wins – the moments where I’m faced with temptation, or faced with a difficult decision, and I make the right choice. I’ve been humbled by the failures, and at times, devastated. I’ve asked for forgiveness, and tried to move forward.
But I’ve also been testing. Testing my feelings, testing how I feel about the plan that God is has clearly laid out for me. Testing how much control I can give up, and how much faith, I can possibly have.
I try to remind myself of the moments His presence has been so strong, it’s rocked me. Moments of undeniable truth.
Almost a decade ago: after the dream I had about my deceased Aunt. She relieved me of my guilt about her death, after she told me I couldn’t have saved her. I felt Him then.
A few weeks ago: when I prayed for a good night’s sleep, after days of restlessness. That evening, it rained – creating such a a gentle, soothing sound, I passed out. I felt Him then.
On Sunday afternoon, (and during a lot of pivotal moments in my life): when he inspired me to get baptized, and then played me a song.
During one of my first trips to The Summit (with Rachel, of course), people were invited to go up and get baptized. I felt the twinge then, but ignored it. It was too soon, I wasn’t “Christian” enough – there were a million reasons I could think of to say no.
On Sunday, when the same invitation was extended, and I saw one solitary girl walk up, I felt the twinge again. And again… there were reasons I could think of to say no. Mostly because it scared me. A lot.
I knew it was a public declaration. I worried that God wouldn’t think I was close enough to him yet. I thought about the friends, family members, and co-workers who would know.
But then I thought about the woman that God had clearly prepared me to be. I thought about all of the wonderful blessings I had in my life. In the few seconds I had to make a decision, my thoughts and feelings swirled like a swarm of bees in my stomach – a very uncharacteristic feeling of me to have.
Then, a moment of clarity, and the exact words I needed to hear popped into my head:
“If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve.”
So I stopped thinking, and took a huge leap. I moved across our bench, passing a surprised but excited Rachel, and asked to be baptized.
About fifteen minutes later, I was dressed in an over-sized t-shirt and shorts, standing backstage, waiting for it to happen. Then, I was in a huge bathtub, with a tall, bearded guy I had never met.
I was still so incredibly nervous. He asked if I believed if Jesus Christ was my Savior. I said yes. He asked if I believed in all of the promises Jesus had made.
It was that moment, exactly. I felt a huge wave of relief, joy, happiness wash over me. I’m fairly certain that my friend Allison captured it:
I felt His presence. I felt so calm, as I enthusiastically (as photographed) said yes. Then I let this stranger (who to be honest, looked a lot like Jesus), dip me under the water.
I wasn’t scared anymore.
God has already brought me through the deepest waters, and I’m so grateful for my relationship with Him. I’ve begun to understand that we really don’t have much control over what our plan is. Only over our actions, only over our struggles, and at the end of the day, only the people that we decide to be.
Despite the doubt or anxiety that might push us to fear, there’s always a stronger, more persistent feeling: love. Love for what we have, and who we have to thank for it.
After church, Rachel and I went to celebrate at Tazza, a brunch place that Grace introduced me to. As I sat there with soggy bangs, I wondered about God’s plan for me. I thought about how sometimes, it’s so clear, and other times, I really have to pay attention.
Then, a song started to play.
I listened, for just a moment, to make sure it was the right one. It was. It was the song that had brought me extreme comfort in the past, that I had never heard played in public – not even at an Avett Brothers show.
And I knew – in the same way any of you would know, if you heard that *one song* that everyone seems to have, that I didn’t have to worry about the plan for my life. I just had to keep living it.
To keep moving forward.
“To have your things and wait there for a plane ride,
No one there to sit and hold your hand in flight,
But everyone I know out here is lonely,
Even those that have someone to lie beside at night.”
- Pretty Girl At The Airport, by The Avett Brothers