If you’d told me in August I’d get baptized in October, I probably would’ve laughed out loud. Or at least snorted. There would have been an audible sound.
In fact, if you’d told me two weeks ago I’d be getting baptized this past Sunday, I would have been skeptical at best. Me? Baptized? Again?
The past two months have been some of the most transformative of my entire life, and not by any doing of my own. I can count on one hand the number of times I went to church this summer. Now I’m there four days a week. Never once did I think to myself, I’m going to go to church more.
It just… happened.
At some point between finishing up my last class of undergrad in August and getting baptized in October, my heart completely and utterly changed. I now long for Sunday. I look forward to the time I get to spend alone with my Father. I am more concerned with His approval than that of others (for the first time in a very, very long time). My dreams are changing. My priorities are shifting.
I have never felt more alive.
A journal entry from mid-September puts it best: What is happening to me?
I guess, if I had to place a finger on when things started changing, it was when I picked up a book to read for pleasure for the first time post-college. The book was one I’d been meaning to read for years, and it practically fell into my lap: Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. I realize that title may be polarizing for some, but seriously, I would recommend it to anyone in the church, especially women. It rocked my world.
In a nutshell, reading that book unearthed some very deep, very real bitterness I’d been harboring toward the church that had been impacting my relationship with God for years. It built up slowly, over time, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late. It’s not that I was angry at God per se, but I’d been confused about something for so long that it eventually grew into a roadblock I couldn’t overcome:
Why would God give me gifts if I’m not allowed to use them?
Why would God equip me with certain abilities and not allow me to use them for His purposes? Gifts like leadership and a passion for writing, speaking, and teaching — you know, the things reserved for men. I was dumbfounded why I couldn’t proclaim the Good News because of my anatomy. I didn’t even feel called to pastoral ministry, I just had an ego-sized chip on my shoulder that I couldn’t do it if I did.
This caused a serious rift in my relationship with God for several years, and after a while I just… adjusted to that rift. Built my life around it without ever really trying to fix it. It got to the point where I genuinely thought I would live the rest of my life caught somewhere between my natural, God-given self and “biblical womanhood.” I got tired. And I stopped trying to answer that initial question.
Now, hear me: this is not a post about the role of women in the church. I would love to have that discussion at another time (and let’s be honest, I probably will). But regardless of whether the term “Jesus feminist” makes you clutch your pearls, it changed my life.
This is a paragraph from the introduction to Jesus Feminist:
I wept when I read that.
It hit me like a bus: I had fallen out of love with Jesus. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. When you’re in love with someone, you desire to spend time with them. You want to talk to them, experience things with them, and be in their presence. When things get hard, you put in the work because you know they’re worth it.
I’d stopped putting in the work.
As I read story after story of the women Jesus fought for, I started falling back in love with him. Stories like Mary, the first person who saw him after he rose from the grave in a time when women’s testimonies were worthless. She was the first one to share the good news of his resurrection. I think that was intentional.
Stories like the woman caught in the act of adultery, whom Jesus spared when everyone else was ready to kill her in the streets. Stories like the Samaritan woman, whom he knew better than she knew herself. Stories like Martha, the woman with a blood disease, and countless other unnamed women.
Stories like my own.
Jesus has always been pro-woman. We read the Bible in our 21st-century context, but he was radical for his time. I’d started to believe the lie that Jesus wants me to be less than myself, when in reality he’s been fighting for me for centuries.
This was in late August. As I read that book, I felt many longstanding open wounds begin to heal. And quickly, supernaturally, I began desiring God. I started talking to Him again, and He started talking back.
Or at the very least, I was finally listening.
Right now, He’s in the middle of authoring a very exciting chapter in my life. I’ve started documenting things because so much has happened in so little time, and I don’t want to forget anything. I plan on sharing in greater detail in the coming weeks, not because my story is anything newsworthy, but because I firmly believe there is strength in knowing you are not alone. If my story finds just one girl, just one teenager, just one woman stuck in a lie I believed for years, it was all worth it.
So, I got baptized on Sunday. I am saying “yes” to whatever comes next.
Jesus, I never, ever want to fall out of love with you again. I will fight for us. May I never again know the emptiness of feeling far from you.
Stick around. He is working.