On Being Baptized at Jones Beach

July 30, 2010

in Personal

On Being Baptized at Jones Beach
So. I got baptized last Saturday. At the beach. A New York beach, at that.

This might seem like it came out of nowhere. I think that was by my own design. You see, I joined a church back in June. A church I’ve been attending since March. I’ve been looking for a church to attend regularly in NYC since I moved here last year, but I hadn’t made a decision on this particular church until last Fall. I generally kept this information to myself.

I wrote a post outlining how I came about choosing and joining this church, and the post also discussed my personal history of church attending, but I never published it. I might some day. It’s incomplete though, and will need some editing/finishing.

Anyway.

My Baptism Backstory

I was supposed to get baptized like, decades ago. I became a Christian when I was fairly young (but old enough to make the decision), but for reasons that children and teenagers feel insecure about, I never chose to get baptized. (The churches my mother went to don’t baptize babies). I dunno, the thought of being dripping wet in front of everybody at church didn’t sound exciting. Seriously.

My mother and stepfather met in ministry school and they were both very active volunteers and leaders at the churches they attended over the years.  My mom didn’t force me to get baptized, which, I think was awesome now that I review my story. I’ve never felt like I was doing this Christian thing because my mom made me, or because I felt like I needed to please her, or because that’s just what people do in my family/community/etc. My mom set an example as best she could, but never forced me to do things I didn’t want to do when it came to Christianity. My stepdad was awestruck when he discovered I had never been baptized. He told me I needed to do it, but he didn’t pressure me or make me feel bad about not doing it. Again, I appreciated this very much. Everything about my faith is a choice, not a lesson in Peer Pressure 101, which I love.

As I grew older, I conveniently forgot about getting baptized. My reasons for not getting baptized? Laziness. Shyness. Fear. Excuses. Flat out disobedience.

Changes

Recently I decided I was going to really change the way I live my life in terms of my faith. No more just going to church on Sundays and forgetting about God for the rest of the week (unless a crisis arose, in which case I needed to cry a prayer to Him for help). I had too many needs, dreams, expectations and crises in my life that an hour on Sunday simply couldn’t handle. My needs demanded more consistency than that.

I decided I was going to join a church, attend consistently, join some of the weekly small group bible study sessions, MEET PEOPLE, volunteer at church, and make this more of a daily walk.  Consistency is what I needed. I knew I had to do this because it was a significant weak area of my faith, and I’ve been struggling with this particular issue for almost 10 years now (where did the time go?). I wanted change in my life, but I knew I had to change in order to get to the next level. Leveling up, if you will.

And so, there was adult water baptism staring me in the face again. I knew I needed to get this out of the way as an act of obedience. Truthfully, I signed up for a baptism earlier this year but flaked. Same concerns/fears/issues arose again. Then I thought, I’m too old for this. When I heard my church would be baptizing people at the beach, I realized this was my chance to do it with flair. I mean, how many people do you know who were baptized in the ocean? Nil.

The Big Day

I knew the date months in advance, but I was still giving myself a backdoor escape just in case I wanted to flake. So I didn’t tell anyone or mention my plans anywhere. My plan was a secret between me and the pastor who was e-mailing me about baptism signups.

I hiked out to Jones Beach this Saturday where my new church held their annual beach baptism gathering. We sang a few songs (including my favorite), the pastors reviewed the process with us, some people shared stories about their walk of faith, and then….we got baptized.

It was awesome.

On Being Baptized at Jones Beach

So about the whole beach experience. There were 43 or so of us getting baptized, and 5 or so kids went first. They were such cuties. I envied them for deciding to do this at such a young age–something I could never bring myself to do. Bless their little hearts. Then the adults lined up in two lines, and for each line, three pastors went out further into the water where we would meet them when it was our turn. Someone ushered us from the shore to the pastors when it was our turn…and then you said what you had to say and they said what they had to say, and then you were lowered back into the the water, raised up from the water, and voila!

Easy, right? Except at the beach there’s this whole wave environment going on. Once I got into the water, chest deep, I realized I was freezing. The water was….yeah–FREEZING. Then these big waves kept crashing right behind us. I’m a SoCal Girl, so waves don’t scare me. But when you’re standing in the water with three people immediately surrounding you and you’ve got to focus on the ‘script’, as well as the falling backwards, and did I mention IT WAS FREEZING!? It was a lot to think about in a short amount of time.

It was fun. We jumped a few waves as I got comfortable with the freezing water splashing around, and then it was over quickly. Church members, friends and family who came to watch us all get baptized cheered loudly for me from the shore, and it felt great. The executive pastor gave me a big hug, and while I am a glutton for crying at special moments, I didn’t cry. I was happy and relieved.

I waded back to shore, a bit in a daze. I went to find the wonderfully wonderful friend from one of my bible study small groups who came with me and gave her a big wet hug. I cheered on the rest of the baptismal candidates as they declared their faith, and I took a few pictures.

On Being Baptized at Jones Beach

On Being Baptized at Jones Beach

I don’t think I could have asked for a better baptism experience.

I realize I didn’t go into detail of what all this means, what the Bible says about it, etc. Just know I am happy with my decision, I feel I’ve done what is right according to the Bible and if you want to know a better explanation of what this means, watch this here video on YouTube that my church posted from last year’s baptism (social media church FTW). If you have any questions, comments, concerns, feel free to ask in the comments, or shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for reading this far On Being Baptized at Jones Beach

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

nocdib August 3, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Congratulations! Baptism is a big step. I wish you nothing but the best in your spiritual life.

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Liz August 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Aww thanks!

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Hashim Warren August 3, 2010 at 7:49 PM

Wow, Liz! I didn’t realize you were on that journey! I’m very happy for you!

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Liz August 4, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Aww thanks Hashim! You definitely played a role in helping me along my path, even though you weren’t aware :) Thank you for being such a great example!

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Erica August 17, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Thanks for sharing, Liz. Congratulations! :)

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AtypicalLibrarian August 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM

I pop in and lurk around your blog from time-to-time. Thanks for sharing your story and how awesome is it that your back story isn’t steeped in peer pressure. I’m on a similar path trying to get involved at a church that I joined earlier this year. I was baptized as child and after being out of touch for a few years I’m trying to re-establish this part of my life. IDK what drove me to your blog today but it affirmed that I’m on this path for a reason. Thanks again and congratulations!

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TIna August 22, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Awww congratulations, that was an amazing step and even more amazing that you shared it so candidly We need more smart, attractive cool a$$ chicks rocking for the Kingdom. The best is yet to come!!

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Latoicha August 24, 2010 at 12:20 AM

Congratulations! What a way to get baptized! Your pictures are beautiful. I remember when I made the decision to get baptized again. it was 4 years ago…after being married and having a child. I once was baptized in college, but did not have a clue what it really meant. So when I did it 4 years ago, I knew it was right and it was wonderful. So thankful and glad I did! Many blessings to you!

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Vee May 5, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Wow, your experience sounds awesome! I came across your blog after doing research about baptism… I really feel like I’m ready for that step. Like you said, I have so many dreams that I want to fulfill and the only one who can help achieve them is God. If baptism allows me to be closer to him then so be it… If you don’t mind sharing, what church do you attend.. I’m searching for a group that will help me through the process..

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Liz Burr May 6, 2011 at 1:16 AM

Congrats on working towards taking the next step. the church i go to is called the Journey. They hve 4 campuses in NYC as well as one in south florida and another in san fran.

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