About two months ago I took a hiatus from writing to lay 1200 square feet of tile in our house.Turns out laying that much tile (about 6000 pounds worth) is a lot of work! The tile isn’t quite done yet, but ready or not, I’m back writing. If you’re still here here, thanks. A lot has happened recently. For the first time in eight years, we stayed in Arizona for Christmas. Also for the first time in eight years, Barrack Obama is not the President. Lastly, another eight-year milestone, I had the incredible privilege of baptizing and confirming my daughter a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Staying in Arizona to lay tile over Christmas break meant no snowboarding, so I don’t even want to talk about that. As tempting as it is to write about how much President Trump is freaking me out, I don’t think that’ll do anyone much good, so I think I’ll stick with something positive: my daughter’s baptism.
I’ve encouraged, taught, or interviewed a lot of people before baptism over the years. But the pressure I felt to help my daughter prepare was something else. I wanted very much for this to be more than a cultural right of passage. I wanted her to understand as well as possible the meaning and purpose of the ordinance. We spent a lot of FHEs on the topic, and on the morning of the baptism I gave one last impassioned reminder as I was driving down the road with her and her five-year-old brother. It went something like this:
“Gracie. I want you to remember, when you get baptized, the most important part is what happens in your heart. We get baptized to show God that we will always follow Christ, that we will remember him and keep his commandments, so that he can always be with us and help us.”
To my surprise, Jonah, the five-year-old, was the first to speak up.
“So it’s like Jesus is your Dad?”
I was stunned! Not because my son understood the doctrine of spiritual rebirth, but because he had seen in my simple explanation the way the baptismal covenant puts us in a relationship with Christ that is similar to a Father-Child relationship. Although this isn’t widely understood or emphasized by members of the Church, the scriptures repeatedly reference conversion as being a “rebirth" and Christ being the Father of that rebirth. Many are confused by scriptural instances referring to Christ as Father. There are three reasons Christ is sometimes referred to as the Father (you can read about all three here) but one of them is in the sense that Christ is the Father in our spiritual rebirth. Our conversion.
It’s really beautiful symbolism: Our Heavenly Father helped us progress to physical birth, where we gained another father and went through a change (birth) to become mortal. Then we progress to another father, through whom we go through further change (or rebirths) to go from mortality to eternity.
Want to dig in? Here’s a good start:
And from general conference:
Ye Must Be Born Again - David A. Bednar
Born Again - Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Born Again - James E. Faust
“Except a Man Be Born Again” - Marion G. Romney
Born of God - Ezra Taft Benson
And while we’re here, can I just testify of the awesomeness of baptism and confirmation? I suppose God could’ve had us do any number of things as a symbol of our commitment to Christ. Run the mile. Draw a picture. Eat some snow from a mountain top. Whatever. But I love the simplicity and symbolism of baptism. And confirming my daughter was one of the greatest privileges of my life. I love my daughter, I love the Lord, and I love participating in his ordinances. I believe that when we engage these sacred outward acts with true internal purpose, they have the power to help lift us far beyond our mere mortal selves. I hope above all that beginning with her baptism and continuing at the sacrament table each week, Gracie embraces the opportunity to live a life intent on love, service, forgiveness and improvement for herself and all of God’s children everywhere.