On December 9, 2012, I walked into Redemption Church in Tempe, AZ with trembling hands and butterflies in my stomach. I knew what it meant to be baptized, but I didn’t really understand how it felt to fully commit to a relationship with Jesus.
For the longest time, I was afraid. I was afraid that my past wouldn’t allow me to be in this wonderful relationship with my Savior. I nearly felt unworthy of this overflow of mercy and grace because I was a sinner. Sin, sin, sin – a sinner through and through. As I began to learn of mercy, grace, and the love of Christ, I knew that I was loved and accepted under any circumstance. The greatest part of this realization was not only that I knew these things were true, but for the first time in 20 years, I felt that I was loved and accepted by God. That was when I wanted to publicly profess my love and acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior. Once I realized that his love for me hung on the cross, baptism was the very least I could do.
There I was, in front of a Sanctuary full of complete strangers. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” my pastor said to me, and underwater I went. When I emerged, the room of strangers applauded and that’s when I knew that these people were no longer strangers. They were my brothers and sisters in Christ. It was the first of the many overwhelming realizations I would have that night. Their applause was warm and inviting, as if to say, “Welcome to the family, Gabrielle. We love you and we’re happy to have you.”
I returned to my seat and for the remainder of the baptisms, I cried. We closed in worship and prayer, tears never-ending. The way I felt that Sunday night was immeasurable. My clothes were dripping, make-up running, hair stuck to my neck and shirt – I felt flawless. Whoever I was prior to December 9th was gone and I was free of those chains. This was a clean slate fueled by love and the freedom to live my life for God. That night, I was brand new.
One year later, I’m still a sinner. One year later, He still loves me. This love has led to the happiest moments I’ve experienced and some that have left me in tears. This love has led to a year of becoming a better person who has learned to put her trust in God’s plan. Some days I sit in frustration wondering why situations aren’t in my favor, why the things I’ve grown to be comfortable with (friendships, financial stability, career path, etc.) have suddenly taken a turn for the worst and disappeared completely, and of course, inevitable heartbreak resumes when I put forth all of who I am for someone else and our lives are in different chapters, leaving our feelings on different pages. To know that I’ve not only been able to push through these storms with God on my side, but that there is something far more beautiful and fulfilling in the journey and the destination, is the ultimate comfort and security.
One year later, I wake up on a daily basis with a love that cannot be rivaled and forgiveness that is unmatched. One year later, I’m saved. One year later, with God, my life is new.