The day after I was baptized I really wanted to find a way to tell others about my change of belief.
I sat down and created a video, which I find embarrassing now due to my lack of editing skills, but then I just wanted something to post.
My mom shared it on her Facebook shortly after I uploaded it to my youtube account and it wasn’t long before it had ten likes… and hundreds of comments.
All of our old friends and people we use to worship with were commenting that we had joined a cult, that we had been tricked into legalism, and that we were brainwashed.
I found the last comment interesting because looking at and evaluating everything, I realized I had been brainwashed into never thinking for myself for years, not the other way around.
It was overwhelming.
Then a few of the men and women from our new church started responding to those comments with verses, Greek words and definitions, it was amazing to see how logical their responses were versus the knee-jerk reactions of “This is untrue! How could you?”
I got a text from a friend, “Hey, I heard about your baptism… my parents and my siblings had a bible study together today, I don’t want to really talk about what you believe so our friendship isn’t ruined, but they warned me that you would try to convert me.”
I didn’t really know how to respond, that wasn’t the last time a friend told me that their parents had “warned” them about me and my “cult”.
“So Grace, do you believe the rest of us are going to hell?” Became a question a few people would ask me in front of everyone.
The first time, I was taken aback, “I am not God,” I told them and the people listening in, “I do not see your soul. Have you obeyed the Bible?”
“You know, according to what you believe now, your dad is going to hell because he hasn’t been baptized like you and your mom.” they retorted.
“I have to get to class.”
I noticed that a lot of my friends started keeping their distance.
“Where’s everyone else?” asked one of my friends as he walked up to me in the hallway.
“I don’t know,” I told him.
I looked up and noticed that he was staring down at me, “You seem different, have you seen my friend Grace? She’s super short with curly hair, freckles, and usually is sad and making sort of funny jokes.”
“Nope, haven’t seen her,” I told him, and then added, “I became a Christian over Christmas break.”
He looked confused, “Weren’t you already a Christian?”
“I was wrong about a lot of things. We should sit down and talk sometime.”
“I’m pretty sure you’ve been a Christian, but as long as you’re happy, I’m happy, and I’m glad you’re finally happy.” He told me, patting me on the shoulder.
I opened my mouth to say something, but he stopped me, “I’m not interested, sorry, Grace.”
Obviously, when I heard that my congregation was going to have an evangelism class, I jumped at the chance to join.
I not only wanted to know how to tell others about the truth, but I wanted to know how to respond to my friends when it seemed like any conversation about the Bible with them was just a minefield.
“You’re doing too much,” my therapist told me one session,
“allow me to play devil’s advocate: you right now are on a high, but are you ready for a low? Are you ready to crash?”
That was my second to last session.
Her words rang in my ears though as we drove away after my last appointment.: “You’re doing too much. You’re on a high. You are going to crash.”
Did I crash?
I’m not going to lie and say that I healed automatically.
I’m not going to lie and say that I never spent another sleepless night, crying, and struggling to breathe because it felt like my chest was caving in along with the world around me.
I’m not going to lie and say it was easy.
Going to services was hard, being around people who grew up in truth and didn’t seem to understand that I hadn’t, was hard.
“Who doesn’t know that?” people would scoff in Bible class, and I would sit there quietly because it was the first time I had ever heard anything like it before in my life.
“I wish I was like you and hadn’t grown up in the church,” someone told me once.
“No, you don’t,” I told him.
Sometimes I felt like I would never catch up, sometimes I still feel that way and forget being a faithful Christian is a marathon and not a sprint.
There were so many times I cried to my mom because I felt so alone like no one understood how confusing it was, and how hard it was to lose everything I once held onto.
I’m so behind, it’s evident that I’m so behind. I feel too jaded to be among some of these people. I don’t feel worthy to be here. Those were all thoughts that went through my head when I walked into our church building. I don’t think people understood why I cried through a lot of the hymns, I was so thankful but tired and discouraged at the same time.
I started using the evangelism class I was taking.
My first study was with my dad, throughout studying with him, I couldn’t read him at all. He said very little. I couldn’t get him to talk about religion, when I did, he would refer to it as “what your mom and you believe” and leave it at that.
I’ve always been close to my dad, he was the one I went to with all my problems, my rock, my foundation, and not being connected to him in the most important way, and knowing that every time he left for work could be my last to ever see him in all of eternity, was so hard.
I would cry and beg God for him to listen during church after every study. I would beg for God to give him time.
One day, I was riding with him and we had been riding in silence as usual, when he broke it. “If it’s true, then what about Billy Graham? What about all the people who I know are way smarter than me and know their Bible better? How can they be wrong when they are so much smarter than I could ever be?”
“It’s the Bible versus the doctrine of men, Dad.”
He didn’t say anything again for the rest of the drive.
“I don’t think he’s even listening or reading his Bible,” I told a friend in tears one night after worship.
One Wednesday night, I heard the sound of water filling the baptistry after services, “Who is getting baptized?” I asked, but no one knew.
“Grace,” an elder walked up to me and hugged me, I looked at him, confused, “your dad is about to be baptized.”
I stared at him, what?
I felt my whole body go numb. It didn’t feel real as everyone found a place to sit back down in the pews, I looked across the room and made eye contact with my mom, she was in shock as well.
I felt disbelief and joy as I watched my dad get baptized for the remission of his sins that night.
“I was listening to the sermons and to you and your mom,” my dad told me afterward, “I’m sorry for being so stubborn.”
It was surreal.
Our family was fully a Christian family, finally.