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Monday, November 21, 2011

Baptism Despite Me

About 3 years ago Red started going to church with his friend of.  Summer before last, they went to a christian sleep away Summer Camp (click to read that post).  He comes home so excited about the experience of making new friends, being and being socially accepted.  He participated in the Follies, where he and his friend sang a rock song and everyone gave him a standing ovation.  He was hooked! In fact, his friend ended up having to leave camp because of some unacceptable behavior.  Red stayed on and had a good time anyway.

He mentioned wanting to be baptized back then, but I wasn't quite sure if he really connected with what it meant.  He has mentioned it from time to time, since then but he didn't seem all that serious about it.  He continued to attend church, without me, for which, I was happy.  There are so few things that he wants to do consistently without me.  I welcomed the fact that he was doing something positive on his own.

Though, I am a follower of Christ...I do not actively practice organized religion.  Since the kids were born and we moved to Texas, we have attended various churches...some more regularly than others.  The boys never really liked any of the black, Baptist churches, with loud gospel music that I like.  We tried several more ethnically diverse christian churches.  These were better for the boys,  but boring for me.  Their attention spans are extremely short, so sitting and paying attention for any length of time, was impossible when they were younger.  Getting out the door on time...another extreme challenge. One that I fight so hard during the week, I have little energy for it on the weekends. 

My serious one,  Blue, would sometimes hang on to part of the message, misinterpret it, and then be too freaked out to go back to that church.  Regular church attendance became to be less and less practical for our family.  

We have been attending church service via the internet for the past year and a half.  It's the church that my brother-in-law and their family attends in Baltimore, Maryland.  We hook it up to the t.v. and the speakers and have worship right here in our living room, with gospel music that we can adjust the volume as needed.  While in Maryland this summer, we actually visited the church.  It was sO LOUD! Though, we enjoyed meeting the pastor...OMgoodness there is no way, we could do that every Sunday. 

Part of reason that I have not made going to church every Sunday a priority is by own religious background.  I was raised in a very strict, religious household.  We were Jehovah's witnesses, which was all encompassing part of our lives... services 3 times a week, and field service at least once.  I came to absolutely loathe it by the time I reached high school.  Others in the religion were very intrinsic in our lives.  I felt I had too many people to answer to...instead of just answering to God, as it should be. By the time I was 17...I was done with it.  I think subconsciously, I never wanted to make my children hate religion, church and me making them go.  I want their faith and their connection with God to come from within.

Like many, I have doubts within my faith, but I very much believe in God and his son Jesus Christ and in following his example for my life.  I have always felt it important to teach my children biblical principals, especially the principals that Jesus lived by during his time here on earth.  Helping others in need, loving others...even our enemies.  Blue has a real hard time with that one. "Why would we love our enemies?" asks my literal boy.  The importance of being honest and respectful is essential in our home.  I have taught them the sprit of giving and I try my best to teach them to be thankful for the blessings in their lives.  Prayer is a part of our daily lives.  We are however, imperfect sinners...constantly striving, but continually making human errors. 

Despite me, the boys faith in God is just incredible.  Blue has stopped us in the middle of a trip and said, lets hold hands and pray for our safety, and give thanks for this blessing.  He teaches his friends the things that I've taught him about kindness and not making fun of others.  And Red...he found his way to church without me.  He found himself a small church full of pure, accepting, Christians...where the music is quiet and doesn't bother his senses.  The environment is serene enough where he has been able to learn more biblical principals.  

He comes to me last week and says, "I want to be baptized next Sunday."  Memories flash through my mind of when my mom made me get baptized.  She thought it was time.  I felt forced.  When I asked him why, he was very clear.  "I want to try to follow the example of Christ.  I know I won't be perfect, but I want to try.  I know I've done things that are wrong in the past.  And I just want to be a good person." 
And so it came to be.  On Sunday, as I looked on with tears in my eyes,  my 16 year-old son testified as to his faith in the Lord in front of the entire congregation, which included our family. The congregation so small...that they all know and have come to love him.  He was held in a loving embrace and baptized...