Today marks the ten year anniversary of my baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I approached my baptism ten years ago with a great deal of deliberation but even then I could not ever imagine the significance and importance it would make in these past ten years. It is not something that I have ever taken lightly. I understood from the beginning that this decision would come with a great deal of speculation and criticism but for ten years I have been able to walk in confidence with my decision because of the many spiritual confirmations that I am exactly where I need to be.
When I met Kyle, I was so taken with his sheer joy. His smile emanates from within Him and the more we talked about his faith, the more I realized that his happiness had a great deal to do with his beliefs. The year we dated before he left on his mission we talked every night on the phone and I would grill him relentlessly on every aspect of his faith that I could think of. He didn’t always have immediate answers or answers at all to every question but he was willing to study it out and try his best to explain to me many of the misunderstood beliefs.
Each time he would come back with such sincerity that it was hard not to let down my walls and truly listen. Even so, I never let on that I was intrigued. I strung him along with question after question and he never knew that I was waiting for the right time to officially express interest.
You see, I still couldn’t discern whether I was interested because of him or because of the beautiful beliefs themselves. I decided that I would have to wait until he was far away with our only contact being snail mail.
A month after he left, my desire to learn more remained and I sought out the missionaries.
My very first lesson with them I was asked to be baptized and surprisingly, “yes” came out of my mouth. We were sitting in a small library at a church building with another member who had joined the lesson. The room was bright and warm in contrast to the dark and gray Seattle sky. When the yes came out of my mouth, even I was taken aback. The look on the missionaries faces were of sheer delight and I remember thinking, “Did I just say ‘yes’?!?”
I am often plagued with indecision and I couldn’t believe that I had so quickly responded in the affirmative. It was as if my spirit had leaped out, confirming what my heart truly desired.
The weeks that transpired only confirmed that initial choice as I was taught about a living Christ and my relationship to Him and my Father in Heaven. I was still so nervous getting baptized, even after saying yes, but then the missionaries showed me a video of the current prophet and president of the Church at that time testifying of Christ. It was a simple testimony. He bore witness that He really was who He said He was. He really did all that was written of Him. He suffered for each of us, died and rose again so that we too may all live again. He is the Living Christ and offers us the hope of life eternal and true and everlasting joy. The video ended and we sat in this quiet, sparse room and the missionaries asked a simple question, “How did that make you feel?”
As I sat there, I grew speechless from emotion. My whole body surged with confirmation of truth. I finally uttered the words, “I believe him” and I did. I believed that Savior really was the promised Messiah, not just for people who lives thousands of years ago, but for you and me. I believed that He really did heal and suffer and die and rise again and that in modern times He continues to reach out to us in guidance through prophets and a living church.
I left that room that day confident in the direction I was heading.
These past ten years have not been absent of questions and trials. Things aren’t always rosy and perfectly bathed in light, but each time as I struggle to understand something or work my way through a trial I always come back to that room, where I received my very first confirmation of truth.
My confirmation came from finally knowing and believing Jesus Christ. This knowledge has carried me through my darkest moments. In the depth of grief and pain through losing a child I was angry and confused and so incredibly hurt. I didn’t understand why this happened, why to me, what does it mean to die before you are born and as I wrestled for weeks with so many questions, there was never a clear answer to all of the “why”s. I wanted to understand so badly but each day as I prayed and pondered, the answer that continuously came was, “Some things we don’t get to know in this life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still grow.” I struggled to find comfort in the unknown. To stand still and confident in this earthly life trusting in the kind Heavenly Father I had come to know. Trusting in His goodness and in the grace of His son. Walking in faith that the path forward was still a path worth traveling.
So I continued forward, looking for the ways I could grow. Looking for ways to serve, ways to better understand grace, resting within the truth of my initial choice so many years before; that I was exactly where I needed to be.
I am grateful for the many experiences that have occurred over the past ten years, experiences that confirmed that initial truth. I am grateful that my testimony began with its foundation upon Christ and that each doctrine, each principle, each truth that I come to understand is built upon that foundation. Every nail and beam directs me to Him. I see His grace and love even within the complications and the unknowns and it overwhelms me. I meet people who have had trials and struggles and questions and I see them looking towards Christ in all of it as well and I am speechless.
Many find our temples beautiful and they absolutely are. But in my ten years of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the greatest beauty has come from seeing imperfect people trying to be His hands on this earth. I see people trying to serve and help those around them especially with their own struggles and trials. I see beauty in doctrines and ordinances that bring peace and joy into the lives of many. I see beauty in the principle that each of us has a right to receive revelation for ourselves, that we are all directed to seek out truth and I witness people seeking it!
I think about that moment where I dressed in a dorky white jumpsuit and entered a warm pool of water and I remember how it felt to be lifted up from immersion. I came to life! Afterwards, I fell to my knees in the bathroom and uttered a sincere prayer of gratitude that I had never before expressed. The world was the same as it had been a minute before but a spark ignited within me that day and it has only grown stronger. My spirit was filled with hope and light and pure joy.
Ten years ago I bound my heart to Jesus Christ and in making that covenant I promised to follow Him, to trust Him even with my limited understanding, to have faith that His grace would cover all of my weaknesses and failings and pain.
I continue to walk forward in that faith, knowing He is always right beside me and knowing that I am still exactly where I need to be.