I Bawl at Baptisms

I'm not much of a crier.  And while I don't think it's accurate, my twin girls insist that they (until fairly recently) had never actually seen me cry.

They are nearly eight.

Admittedly I can come across a bit stoic. A “suck-it-up” or an “it-is-what-it-is” kind of girl - where tears are sometimes hard to come by. However, there is a sensitivity that exists in that same soul-space too. Especially when the weight of just living life gets to feeling heavy. In those moments I know it would be natural to let down a good ugly cry. But I can't find it.

What I do find is me praying prayers for some serious water shed, desiring to experience the peace that remains when all has ceased and the well has run dry. Essentially, I have prayed to be wrung-out in a way that only crying-it-out can offer.

Having said all of that, I bawl at baptisms.

A few weekends ago I watched the kids of two sweet friends be baptized at our church. I sobbed uncontrollably. Not audibly (aside from sniffles) but very much visibly.

Tears spilled and kept spilling. I wiped my cheeks and kept wiping. My head bowed deep and my shoulders shook hard. Being the non-crier that I am, I both wanted to stop it and not, all at the same time. One of my girls, Lily (evidently the first time she'd ever seen me cry), sat at my feet and reached up to wipe my tears.

And apparently the mere thought of baptisms makes me weepy too. In that following week, over coffee, a sweet friend shared that she too was going to be baptized. I felt my eyes instantaneously flooded with tears. I think if I were not in a public place and/or if not for fear she might think me crazy, I would have bawled right there in that room full of coffee-lovin' strangers, just like I did the Sunday before in a congregation full of fellow followers.

So I've been trying to process these two moments and their meaning this week. Clearly these tears are happy tears. The kind that originate and flow from a hurts-so-good place in my heart.

I know baptism symbolizes the washing clean ... the starting anew, but I notice much more beautiful imagery too.

Of the recent, non-infant, baptisms I have witnessed, the pastor holds a hand of the person being baptized out in-front of them and then he places his other hand on their back.

I can see Jesus here ... with His one nail scarred hand bracing their body and His other taking hold of their hand.

I can see Him leading them to lay down their striving, their tiredness, any shame, any hopelessness, all of the places they may feel or have been broken and all of the places they may have contributed to brokenness.

Then I see Him lifting them up out of all of it … with a strong hand and tight grip. And their response in this moment, as their face breaks the water and they emerge with a brand new cycle of breath, is their acceptance of it all ... His grace, His rest, His mercy, His peace, His joy, His wisdom, His guidance, His will, His plan, His protection, His strength, His love and ultimately … His sacrifice.

They've come up out of that water, hemmed in by His presence and protected on all sides … washed cleaned of an old way of operating to be joined hand-in-hand with the best way of living.  And it's all possible because in their hearts they have searched and found their love for Christ.

I know now that I cry in deep recognition that their hearts have decided not to do the hard and the beautiful things of this life alone.  In this physically expressive act they have clasped hands with The Mighty outstretched hand, received grace and relinquished self-sufficiency in an exchange of trust. 

In this very public display they have asked fellow lovers of Christ to walk alongside them in kinship and accountability.  They have committed to endeavoring to accept themselves and others as worthy, just as Christ accepts them … prone to crying or not.