HAPPY BAPTISM ANNIVERSARY TO MY SISTER AND I!
A year ago today we dedicated our lives to Jesus, and following God with unwaivering faith & boldness.
And today, I choose to share with you my testimony.
I celebrate this baptism because it's one I made when I actually understood the concept behind "being washed by the water" & one where I actually had a relationship with Jesus.
See there is a HUGE difference between believing and following Jesus. There is an even bigger difference between having an understanding of Jesus and having a relationship with Jesus.
I actually was first baptized at age 17. I didn't do it for me, or for my faith. I did it because I was dating a guy in the military, and his grandparents and older sister we're really into their church and I wanted to feel accepted, and to make a statement to him. Isn't that one of the most ridiculous things you have ever heard?! UGH, I KNOW TRY BEING THE DING DONG THAT DID IT!! *insert face palm emoji here*
So yeah, that baptism really didn't mean a lot to me. It didn't effect me like I expected, I thought "yo, I'll get dunked in this murky pond water & my bf will think I fit perfect with his family and we will skip away into bliss"... what a joke that was.
In fact, my life took a turn for the worst post first baptism. Me and military boy (yes, he was a boy not a man) broke up after I spent all of my senior year of high school compromising things for our 3,000 mile apart relationship. I was heart broken, and turned to the wrong things for comfort. I was not believing or doing anything that honored God or my previously declared "faith".
Shortly after that breakup, I packed my bags and moved 250 miles away to Athens to attend Ohio University, and friend, my freshman year was wild. Athens will always have a place in my heart, and I loved the good parts of who I was. Like the girl who nailed the internship though she transferred and never got to do it. Or the Dean's List scholar, who made genuine connections with some people.
But the wild parts? The bad parts? Oh, I cringe. I joined a sorority so .. that speaks for itself I don't need to elaborate, went out with a Fake ID to bars and got drunk with "friends" (where are they now? idk), hooked up with guys to feel validation, wore clothes that covered 20% of my body, and drove myself into the ground. I. WAS. A. TRAINWRECK.
I eventually ended my membership to the hookup culture club, ditched my fake friends, and found a boyfriend in my residence hall . Let's call him Dandelion, if you knew him then this is funny on many levels. Dandelion and I ruined a beautiful friendship by smacking the "couple" label on us, and in full transparency, sleeping together. If we never would've been exclusive or intimate, then we would've had an incredible friendship. But instead our incredible freindship was doomed because he cheated on me with a girl who was like 5 years younger than us, and did often with more girls too. I forgave, and forgave - feeling worthless, like I was never going to ever be enough for anyone. Fast forward to summer between school years, Dandelion moved back to his town which was 3 hours from mine. We ended our relationship shortly after.
I remember laying on my bathroom floor at 3am dry heaving from crying so hard. I felt worthless, like there was nothing to me. A zillion awful lies cursed through my veins and in pure agony I whimpered "I just want to die". That same very night I climbed back up the stairs and into my bed. I laid with my forehead pressed against the wall, and I cried out to God for the first time in years. I cried out and said "How did I let myself get here? How did I let a boy define my worth? I can't save myself, I need you."
The next morning, feeling fully-aware of the abandonment towards my faith, I Amazon searched a devotional, and purchased a coloring book/devo combo by Jordan Lee Dooley. I dug out my Bible from a box hidden in my bedroom, and I slowly dove back into my relationship with God.
I started to feel put-back-together. I found God, discovering what it means to have faith in the unknown, and I put my life in His hands. Shortly after my breakup with Dandelion, I met Preston. And though I am sure hopeless romantic Kaylista made an IG caption or two saying "you saved me!" under a cute pic of us at age 19, Preston didn't save me. Preston could've never saved me from that brokenness I put myself through, but God did. God filled up my empty soul. God gave me strength to move forward. God loved me just as I was, broken, battered, but beautiful because of the love I now carried in my heart.
Oh and FYI - we will always be broken and battered because we are humans, prone to sin itself.
My family started attending a local church at the beginning of 2019, one and a half years after my rediscovered faith journey began. We made new friends, implemented new lifestyle choices as a family of 3, and just dove headfirst into life as believers.
April 21, 2019 my sister and I stood before our church and declared the most amazing thing one can ever scream: "WE ACCEPT CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOR!". Now hold up we didn't actually stand there with microphones and belt that out, but we sat in a metal bin full of hot water and let our Pastor pray over us and the life we now choose once we breathe in air again after being dunked.
When we started going to church, and when we walked into the room that day we were girls of extreme brokenness, and we chose to let that brokenness speak death into our lives for many years. Now, our lives look a LOT different - and thats the beauty of God's grace and love.
I don't know you and I don't know where you stand in your faith, but I know this - if you are broken & you need to feel loved, accepted, and strong then stop looking for likes on Insta, and stop crawling in bed with people who don't care about you. Instead, start breathing in the life of Jesus, and the good news he came to share before he let his own life be taken so that you may live a changed life.
My life isn't better now because of age, or waking up one day with a motivational-speaker high pep talk about being a boss. My life is better because God forgave the girl that stepped into the tub dry, and has consistently showed His promise to the girl that stepped out soaking wet & washed by the water.