What a great privilege to get to prepare a talk on baptism. It has been so nice this month to hear the principles of this amazing ordinance and to re-solidify the commitments made when I was baptized so many years ago.
We moved here 57 days ago from Allen, TX.
I only know that because I used to have a countdown app on my phone with a picture of our house on it that would count the number of days until we got to Birmingham. I noticed the other day that the app keeps counting even after the event, so now instead of saying however many days UNTIL Birmingham, it says, however many days SINCE Birmingham. Which is an interesting perspective to keep in mind. I get frustrated sometimes that things are not moving along as quickly as I would like them to. Rooms aren't completed, plants aren't growing, relationships aren't thriving the way I think they should be after what seems like a sufficient amount of time. BUT if I remember that 57 days isn't even two months, 57 days is barely a summer, it's barely any time at all, and if I count the things I CAN do and HAVE finished, it makes me calm down a little. Craig and I already have callings. After today, I will have already spoken in Sacament, which I think will take me off the Bishop's radar for several years. I've already gotten to know the YW and so many great people in this ward. We've already established such a great relationship with the sister missionaries and LOVE having them in our home. I can finally remember all the landmarks so I can get TO and FROM this building via Black Jack Rd without getting lost, even in the DARK! That's a BIG deal.
If I had had a BAPTISM countdown app in 1993, it would now say...8,534 days SINCE your Baptism, which is 23 years, 4 months, and 11 days. If I've been on the earth for 16,958 days, then it happens to work out that the very day we moved to Alabama is the exact point when my time as a member of the church exceeded my time as a nonmember. That's kind of a cool coincidence, I think. And since I don't believe in coincidences, then I guess it means I need to do something with that little piece of information. What an amazing perspective to have not just when you think about baptism and the covenants made, but about what has been done with the half a lifetime I've spent as covenanted members of this church.
Do I still feel the same way about the Church as I did on the day I was baptized? In March 1993, I was excited. I was hopeful for the changes that this step would bring in my new life. I have to say that part of that hope included a cute redhead I had had my heart set on for the better part of 7 years or so, but even without a guarantee that he would have been included in the package, I would have jumped into the waters of baptism gladly and happily. I loved the Church. I loved everything about it. I loved the gospel and I loved the Prophet. I loved the programs, and the Book of Mormon. But what I was converted to and what I was missing in my own life was the state of relationships that I saw in the people around me. Sometimes what you see on Sunday isn't exactly reality, but I made it mine. I absolutely LOVED the close, happy families that I saw both in Craig's family and in all of the families in that first ward that embraced me when I was a newly investigating teenager. I have come to know those families that loved and nurtured me in those early years, and other families that have nurtured and been an example to me in the years since, and I know now that what I was drawn to then was REAL and SINCERE. Those families had what I longed for and what I have desired and attained in my own family in the years since my baptism.
That's not exactly the best reason to become a member of the Church and I can tell you I absolutely did not understand at the time I put on that white jumpsuit what it meant to "take upon me the name of Jesus Christ." But I do now.
I did not fully understand the covenants I was making at the time even though my complete and utter joy when I stepped out of that font was sincere and heartfelt. But I do now.
I did not know then that baptism was only the first step in a long, challenging and continuous process of growing and trusting the Lord. But I do now.
I did not know then what it would mean to be
I can tell you that this gospel and that decision are still wonderful to me. And as my perspective grows broader with age and experience, they become more wonderful to me. More now even than they were on that day in March 1993. I testify that it is possible to have our testimonies grow stronger within us. It is possible to have those baptismal covenants written on our hearts. It is possible to have a blazing love of the gospel that continues to burn brightly every day. It is possible to take upon us the name of Christ and have that forever seared upon our hearts, and therefore be changed into new creatures. I testify that that is the hope and the opportunity that the atonement offers. I testify that that is the joy we find not just on the day of our baptism, but every week after when we renew our covenants as we take the Sacrament. I testify that that is the desire of our Father in Heaven, for us to find absolute and complete JOY in the covenants we make and keep when we are baptized into His church. I testify that this Church is true. That the Savior is at the head of it. And that there is no greater peace or joy that we can find in this life except by making and keeping those sacred covenants.