It feels like I have lost this fight. They think that I am staying down, but I’m not giving up tonight. Tonight the wall is coming down. I am stronger than my fears. This is the mountain that I climb, got 100 steps to go tonight I’ll make it 99. One more. Go one more.
I have everything to lose by not getting up to fight. I might get used to giving up so I am showing up tonight. I am my own enemy a battle fought within my mind. If I can overcome step one I can face the 99.
So I had a lot to say besides quoting lyrics, but then over the course I’ve been processing things through Microsoft Word then deleting them again when I am done, so though I don’t have a paper trail anymore, most of the thinking is done…but I decided I still wanted to write about this…
So what I mainly wanted to write about was baptism. I am 21 years old, and grew up in the church…specifically I grew up mainly in an E. Free church which is Swedish Baptist (I am not Swedish though), and now my family attends a Baptist church. Based on that history it would probably shock you to hear that I have not been baptized. It is not that I don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather, there have been barriers.
When I was around eight years old I decided that for my birthday I wanted to attend a baptism class…and I have two younger brothers so they got dragged along as well. When I found out that it was required that I share my testimony to be baptized I was so done with that. My brothers got baptized, but I didn’t. At that point I was really too young to care a whole lot one way or the other. It wasn’t a huge deal to me whether or not I got baptized, I didn’t feel any pressure to do or not do it.
Then I started to feel too old to get baptized…and then I started feeling a little pressure to do it. There was no way I was going to be in front of so many people though, and by the time I started feeling pressured I was at a church where they make you were hideous stupid clothes to get baptized and there was no way I was possibly doing that. As I started feeling more pressured to do it I resisted, but to reconcile the pressure I was feeling from people with my refusal, I claimed that I didn’t believe in a God who was so picky about where I get wet that if I didn’t do it at church that was a problem, and if the goal is an outward display of faith then that is dumb because as a Christian I should already be living in such a way that Christ lives through me, and if God can save people who die minutes after they believe in him, then certainly he can save me without ever being baptized no big deal…I really thought I fully believed this and really believed that baptism was completely pointless, and I guess I really did…until a couple weeks ago.
The church I go to at school does baptism a couple times a year, and I guess because it is kind of I guess I would describe it as a college-aged hipster church most of the baptisms are adults, so I don’t feel like I am too old to do it at school. I am still completely terrified of being in front of everyone though, and pretty scared about the germs in the water.
A few weeks ago was baptism weekend, and I actually thought about doing it, because socially I have seen so much improvement this year, and it would be really awesome if I could go against some of my fear and be in front of a relatively small group of people (the church I go to at school is pretty small). I didn’t do it though b/c I was really scared…no big deal, I don’t need to do it, I just thought it would be an awesome success if I could…
Then because of the weather, the next week baptism happened again. Having this happen for a second week I knew was God’s way of telling me it was time to conquer my fear and do this–but I couldn’t. Sitting in church that night I realized that I had essentially re-written my belief system to accommodate my fear. I am all for accommodations while in crisis to make life live-able, but outside of a crisis situation I HATE when I feel like I am being pulled around by my fear and having to accommodate the fear into every decision that I make. Honestly, this really isn’t about being baptized or not being baptized, it is about realizing the world that my fear ahs kept me from. For years I went through life not even knowing there was a world out there besides the one I was living in. Through working with my counselor first year was the first time my eyes were opened to the possibility of a bigger world than the one I was living in. It seemed unattainable at times, and I frequently chose to act as if I didn’t really believe it was there, but the spark had been lit to burn a hole in the fence keeping me within my world.
I think for a long time as my world began to actually shrink that I still believed that my world might be ever so slightly different but wasn’t really holding me back, because if I admitted that my world was a tiny pile of smoky ruins I would have to admit that I had contentedly lived in a prison for years and didn’t know how to walk out.
This event finally let the fence be burned down so I could see how much bigger the world was than the one in which my fear had me living. I still need to safely cross through the rubble to reach the bigger world, but I now must admit that the bigger world truly does exist.
For so long I was perfectly content with where I was. I had no idea whatsoever that there could possibly be anything beyond the normal that I lived. I mean, I went to counseling first year because Dave told me to try it, and I planned on one-and-done…the only reason I continued was that I didn’t know how to get myself out after I got myself in…Dave had mentioned when I asked why I should do it that it would help me socially. I didn’t think I had a problem socially. I was shy, but that was just who I was.
So if I wanted to be done, why did I start making plans to keep going 2nd year even before I knew Elisha was going to tell someone to initiate with me if I didn’t? Well, partly to people-please, because that is what I am good at, but also because Elisha had opened my eyes enough for me to at least see a deficiency-orientation that my social skills are not good enough by other people’s standards so I should work on them. I occasionally at that point wanted to be like “the popular kids” but for the most part I didn’t see that as who I was and so it didn’t really seem like a realistic thing, just a nebulous ideal. As the germ issue became prominent I suppose I had to admit that I had a problem and needed some help, but I didn’t see it as anything that was limiting me–just something that was kind of a nuisance. I did pro-actively set up help for this year, and fight for my help to continue, because even though I absolutely hate my time in counseling, I know that all the fear and frustration I feel as I get thrown into difficult situations is the price I am paying to go one more step towards recovery and even though being “like everyone else” seems a far-off, overly lofty goal, each step I take will get me closer to that goal, and eventually I will be close enough to reach out and touch freedom…and that is why I torture myself every week with counseling…now that I’ve glimpsed what my world could be, I want it desperately and am willing to do almost anything to get there…
I wish I could still be totally content with where I was, because that was WAY easier, but I know once I reach the end of this journey I will be glad I left that place behind, because my world will be a much nicer place, even though the journey itself is awful.