I was raised by a born-Irish Catholic mother and born-Southern Baptist father– neither of whom were practicing Christians throughout my upbringing.
By the time I came along, my mother was “Catholic’d” out due to her forced enrollment into Catholic school. I never talked much to my dad about religion. Anytime I went to church, I was a visitor with a neighbor or friend from school. Every summer when I’d visit my paternal grandparents in Georgia, my grandmother would take me to church while my father would sleep in. I always wanted a closer relationship with God but was afraid of what it might mean.
Religion was almost laughable in my household– don’t get me wrong, my parents believe in God and that Jesus died for our sins, but they’ve always had that, “Church is full of hypocrites,” sentiment. They’d claim to be more “spiritual than religious.” I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve never been inside a church with my parents, needless to say, I’d definitely never been baptized.
Even with all of that– being baptized has always been something I wanted to do. I always felt like God should be the driving force in my life but I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready to give up all of the worldly things I held so dear. I was always afraid of what others would think of me but I finally decided that this is something I needed to do for myself. A very close friend of mine inspired me to make that step in faith and start taking care of my spiritual needs. I realized that all of my worldly possessions were temporary and really just crutches in fleeting happiness. None of those things brought me genuine joy, maybe they did for a few moments, or even a few years– but nothing of the world is permanent.
In the past, my view of baptism and being saved meant that I’d have to change who I am completely. I’ve grown to learn … that is not the case. I am still the same me, but with a stronger hold in knowing who I am and what I want/need from life. My friends (and family) have been completely supportive of my decision too and have even shared my sentiments in wanting to become better, spiritually. I was really surprised at their reaction. We’re so used to “turning up,” that I was afraid that they’d think I’d changed. But instead they’ve been nothing but encouraging. In life, we’re all searching for something to help us reach ever-fleeting happiness. Some find it in alcohol, in drugs, in unhealthy relationships– but I felt like it was time to find a way to surround myself with productive and positive people in the community. What better way to do so than to fellowship with other people who are committed to doing right? (Not to say that they’re always successful.) To know that you’re around people whom are genuinely committed to self-improvement is comforting. It is said you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with, and after a year of adjusting to my life completely removed from all I’ve known– I felt like it was time to improve my average.
My goal behind sharing this is not to say, “I did this, so you should too,” or even to say, “I was born again so from here on out I’ll never sin again.” That’s not my intent. I’m sharing this for any and everyone whom may have had the slightest inclination to take this step in their spiritual journey. If you’ve ever had half the mind or the heart to make this small gesture to the world, I encourage you to do so. It really is an enlightening experience in the quest for betterment. The people and the judgement that you are so worried may be all for naught. Your story may inspire others without you even realizing. That’s how I ended up here. I saw someone close to me make the same decision I made today and I’ve only seen good things while she’s changed for the better– the core person within is still the same. She’s just on the quest for betterment and productivity … and I wanted to be apart of that.
So here it is, for you to see. I hope that the small peak into my decision has got you thinking about ways that you may be able to better yourself spiritually. Whether it be through religion or otherwise because that’s what life is about right? I’m a strong believer in the saying, “public successes, private struggles,” so I’m not completely comfortable publishing my struggles for the world to see. But just know that this was a step in the right direction for me and while I know I haven’t seen my last of struggle, I can say with full conviction that I feel that much more prepared for when the next storm comes along.