Prequel to this little, short story, inclusive of 8 tiny chapters: I have some friends who are really proud of my pursuit of faith, but I also have a few who are worried for the inevitable changes and temporing of my wild personality.
Meh .. I dunno man. I’ve come to realize that God made me wild and that’s how He likes me. Thus why my blog is all about the revelry of my life. Even as I follow my morals and choose God over societal norms, I still tend to fall into revelry.
Case in point: Ze Baptism
Man oh man were there hurdles to get to this ceremonial water dunking.
Two years ago I realized how badly I wanted to be baptized, but I struggled with the concept of Jesus. A man, who’s technically immortal, dies on a cross for us? Meanwhile mortals die every day, selflessly, at the hands of others, and that doesn’t count? I didn’t get it.
So I went in search of answers.
I emailed my sweet friend in Portland blatantly “What is the big deal about Jesus.”
I asked everyone who wanted to chat about religion “So what’s your take on Jesus? Arrogant or nay?”
Sometimes I would back my question up with “Was it okay to greet people with the declaration of ‘Woman!’ back in the olden days?”
If you’re in search of similar answers I HIGHLY recommend John Eldredge’s book “Beautiful Outlaw.” It puts Jesus’ personality and temperament into modern day perspective.
The next step was establishing myself in a church I loved. Harder to do than you’d think.
I’ve always felt my faith deep in my bones, even with agnostic parents, but it finally materialized in college when I started attending a church in Cypress. Now that I was residing in LA, everything was either super productiony (I get it, you’re an actor who loves Jesus. Good luck with your career man.) or a small establishment reacting to the big churches, often with strict closed mindedness.
Or the services were in Downtown LA, and commuting from the westside to DTLA was like driving to Michigan.
Luckily for me, my old girl friend from college, Laura, was still attending my favorite church in Cypress; in fact, now they had a large young adults’ chapter.
And let’s be honest, Santa Monica to Cypress is way easier than Santa Monica to DTLA. Even on a Sunday.
In September 2015 Laura asked me if I wanted to go to Guatemala. I agreed without hesitation. The financial funding appeared out of nowhere. I got to Guatemala and everyone’s favorite question, “why did you come?”
I had absolutely no idea. It just happened.
The objective of my trip, though, was made apparent within the first 24 hours. This was my week to meet Jesus.
The biggest epiphany I came to during my time in Guat: Jesus is my buddy. He’s been looking out for me and lovin on me throughout my whole life. Even before I knew who He was. Now I see Him protecting my sister and Ma and El Step Dado and Daddy and Barb, regardless of how they feel about him.
More importantly I realized that I don’t have to make sense of everything. I’m not meant to understand Him or God’s plan.
The most poignant moment of my trip was when our leader paraphrased CS Lewis for me: “Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
Oh sweet relief.
And there He was. Lovin’ on me from afar like Dumbledore on HP, with wisdom far beyond my mortal, muggle grasp.
I’m sure you’re judging me right now, but this is how I do all things. The Hard Way. (Just ask my mom.) So I’m personally not surprised my journey towards faith wasn’t any different. If anything it confirmed that I was on the right path.
Also, the more I have to work for something, the more I appreciate it. God knows this about me.
So obviously the journey got harder.
Once the baptism was announced at my church. I thought I was in the clear. Ya. No. Not so much.
First of all, while driving to Cypress on a Sunday evening is cathartic, that same drive is hell manifested on a Wednesday during rush hour. Thus, attending the manditory baptism class was basically impossible. And for some reason communicating this to my church leader was equally ineffective and full of unnecessary frustration for both parts. (My assertion has gotten me far in my career, but it’s also is the reason I can come off as a bitch. It’s also why I get along really well with Sagittarius.)
It was officially two years since I began my quest to get baptized, and yet I was getting discouraged 24 hours into the final process. I mean really discouraged. I was like a child who found out they couldn’t have a Frozen themed birthday party. You better believe there were tears.
Thank goodness for sweet Laura telling me she understood and that it was okay but I should get it together and continue to truck along. Jesus was throwing a party up in Heaven that I was so close. Frozen themed. I needed to Let It Go. (heh)
The second hurdle I faced was an emotional one. I’m forwarning you that if you haven’t judged me yet, you’re hardcore about to. But …like… Jesus loves me …so yolo/ No regrets.
For whatever reason, it was proving to be super difficult to get baptized, but it was really easy to round up a bunch of my people to go bar hopping that Saturday night before.
We were having a great time consuming quite a bit of red wine and vodka (I feel the need to clarify that it was consumed separately, and not as a weird mixed drink), when we ran into a good friend of mine whom I get along with quite well. We always have great conversations, great adventures, but sometimes we get naked in the process. You get what I’m politely alluding to, because im not going into further detail.
I had barely kissed anyone in 11 months. There was one half asleep, fully drunk attempt (that doesn’t count) but other than that, nada. I was a full fledged responsible young woman with her ish together. Borring as heck. And here was the universe presenting me with a really great kissing opportunity the night before my baptism. Mm more than kissing let’s keep it real.
(I debated toning this part down, but I want to be honest. I’m 25 and this is real life. I’m writing this for myself, not for the haters. Plus, after talking with a couple girlfriends about it all, I realized this is a real life hurdle for a lot of people. One we don’t always talk about due to cultural standards that have already been set.)
The next morning I woke up loopy and sleepy, but no hangover and no guilt. Which ultimately just caused me guilt. I wondered if maybe I didn’t deserve to get baptized? I still really enjoyed sinning. Even after 11 months of not sinning in this particular manner. Maybe I wasn’t ready for Jesus. Maybe he was regretting throwing that Frozen themed party in my honor.
I finally opened up my Bible and started the worksheet my church had given me. I had spent a week procrastinating looking at. Ironically, or maybe cleverly, its biggest emphases stated that: you are not to be perfect to get baptized. Rather its intention is for you to proclaim your love for Jesus. Jesus is perfect.
We live in a world where sex in your twenties is expected. Between magazines, television, movies, Instagram – societal norms have taught me that I am to be proud of all that I am ; if I’m a feminist then I am to take control of my body, get naked, and bang whomever I desire, unabashedly. Even if casual sex isn’t really my thing, I had been taught to never be ashamed of it.
Sometimes diving deeper into Christianity is like stepping out of Plato’s Cave. All this time I thought sex was the way to go, which is why it was such a blessing to have it right before my baptism.
Hear me out.
You see, an hour or so of doing the dirty dirty was totally fine. Very Ariana Grande Dangerous Woman.
…all that you got, skin to skin, ohmygod, don’t you stop boyyy
But being dunked in lukewarm water in a proclamation of my love for a man who died for me, was even better. Which to me means that sex with a man I love, whom I’ve developed a relationship centered around God with, is going to be mind blowing.
Sex + love is perfection. That’s how God designed it. But we, as a society, take his gift and misuse it and wonder why we feel so unfulfilled afterward.
The final hurdle, the universe’s final attempt to thwart me, was the physical hurdle. I left 30 min early so I could get a coffee on my way and yet there was gnarly traffic, a rarity on a Sunday afternoon, which rendered me late.
Once again I texted Laura on the verge of tears and she responded “I’m here. I’ll listen to all the pre baptism information so I can pass it along to you. And if you’re not here to get prayed over, you’re getting prayed over regardless.”
Bawling. In bumped to bumper traffic . Blatantly obvious to the poor people around me just trying to mind their own business.
And then instantaneously traffic broke and I was on my way, praying for the individuals caught in the wreck that knocked out 3 lanes of the 405.
When I FINALLY got to the church Laura said she could feel the heaviness of my heart the second I walked in. Pardon my second HP reference, but I imagine it to be somewhat like that of a dementor.
Then, after everything – all the stress, the tears, the time, the struuuglin’ – Laura and her Hunny started praying for me. As I listened to their words and thoughts, I could feel the weight on my soul lift; the choked feeling in the back of my throat withdrew. The oddest sensation of contentment and peace settled in its place.
This night at church was probably one of my absolute best. The worship music was phenomenal and the entire congregation could feel it as it reverberated through our voices and hearts. I thought that getting into that darn tub of lukewarm water would suck, but I was kindly placed in front of a warm jet. And being dunked under the water.. I don’t know. It felt… perfect. It was like every question on my soul in that moment was answered. It was so good.
Good Lord. Thank you for this life. All the adventures. The mistakes. The revelry. I’m so thrilled it’s mine, and I’m thrilled to be Yours.
And thank you, dear friends, for your support. Thank you for answering my questions. For the conversations. For putting up with me as I make mistakes. My smart assyness. For cheering me on through my successes. I am SO lucky I get to do life with you all.
I have no idea how I look even remotely decent, almost glowy with wet hair and no makeup. I mean.. how could I not believe in God?