by Amy Siemens
I grew up in a family that loved Jesus. The typical go to church every Sunday, pray before meals and bedtime type of family. For some families this can simply become routine, but my parents truly taught us kids to love Jesus well. My family always encouraged us to have our own relationship with Jesus and to take the decisions we made seriously, such as communion, tithing and baptism.
As the oldest sister of six children I had it in my mind that I should be the first one to partake in these sacred and special rituals and it started with communion. Finally, when I was sixteen I felt that I was old enough to fully understand the depth of partaking in communion. I remember being so nervous to go up there and dunk my piece of bread into the grape juice. Then, holding my hand carefully under the piece of dipped bread so the grape juice wouldn’t drip on the carpet. I was so excited to go back to my seat and share in this special moment. Until, I got back to the row our family was sitting in and my younger sister wasn’t there?! Where did she go? WAIT, she got to participate in communion the same day as me?! Are you kidding me?! This wasn’t how I pictured it, this wasn’t how I had imagined it going. I had had to wait a whole extra year than she did … what was fair about that …
This first practice of extending my faith did not go as planned. So, I was determined that the second important practice of proclaiming my faith publicly would be just how I’ve always dreamt of it.
I had this image in my head of how it was going to be. It would be up at our cabin in Lake of the Woods, Ontario in Canada. I would be surrounded by all of my friends and family. Every one of my siblings would be there. I had this fantasy in my head that I would be wearing a black shirt and then somehow come out of the water in white garments signifying that my sins had all been cleansed from me. Like how was this supposed to happen?! I have no idea, but this is the image that I had dreamt up in my head of the ideal baptism. Thinking I was in a place ready to publicly proclaim my faith, but could never commit because there was always an excuse “one sibling was missing” or “I didn’t like the idea that they used a blow up pool”. I was so focused on having the right picture and the ideal circumstances of how it would look instead of focusing on the truth and the depth of what it means to be baptized in the name of Jesus.
Being in my twenties and not having been baptized yet, brought me a sense of shame and embarrassment. How could I call myself a Christian if I still had not done the one thing Jesus asks us as Christians to proclaim?! I was embarrassed of having to explain that the reason for me not having been baptized were because the logistics didn’t match my ideal situation. I was embarrassed that people younger than me had been bold enough to take this step in their faith and I was using excuses that because my family wasn’t present I couldn’t do it?!
In December of 2017, I was expressing all of my concerns, shame and idealizations about baptism and what it meant to me to a dear friend. She encouraged me to focus on what baptism truly meant for me. Not anyone else, because it is a declaration of love and commitment between me and God. It doesn’t matter what that looks like or who is there to witness it. Speaking these fears and embarrassment out loud made me realize that I was ready for this next step. I realized it was not about me and my plans but was about the Jesus I loved and his plans for me. I learned I had to let go of the control I thought I had and let Jesus’ plan take precedence.
Although I couldn’t be with my entire family the day I was to be baptized, God gave me so much more than I could have ever hoped for. He surrounded me with the most supportive friends and community. They were there to cheer me on, pray over me and to be my family in Christ. Even though it wasn’t how I had pictured it in my head all those years, it was still perfect. Completely perfect.
The enemy tried to keep me from this amazing experience by bringing shame & paralyzing me out of fear that the experience wouldn’t match my expectations. Once I let Jesus take control and followed his plan, things changed. Jesus can take that shame and embarrassment and use it for His good. Always. Life might not go how you thought, it may not seem fair, but it is good. It is oh so good.