I struggled most of my life with religion and my only experiences revolved around scary misinformation that was given/forced on me by my dad. I love him and got along great with him when I was young, but he had some very interesting thoughts and beliefs when it came to God. After really feeling lost and unvalued in life, I found a support system of amazing people who changed my life. They happen to be Christians and in so in some way, I started to make connections about God based on these people. My childhood consisted of some traumatic events, but in general, I had a fairly normal life and was not really battling some major issue like drugs or depression, but when I was low and started to see things turn around I realized that God could be the missing link in my life. I was skeptical about baptism at first; I didn’t have some great story of how I was headed down a horrible path and then everything changed in an instant, but then I realized it didn’t matter.
I had this moment one day in the pool by myself early in the morning. I was thinking about all the chaotic messy stuff I had going on in my life, as well as negative people and the lack of meaningful engagement. I distinctly remember the feeling of going under the water and when I emerged that morning sun was in my eyes and it was kind of weird because it felt like cleansing in a way and I felt God. I think for a while I had God WITH me, but I didn’t have God IN me. He was not the root or core of me that guided decisions and the way I lived, but he needed to be. I knew life could not just be better, but be amazing beyond my wildest belief if I could make some shifts in my priorities and beliefs. This feeling was way too similar in my mind to a baptism, being in the water, feeling renewed, and feeling God in me. I realized right then that I could get baptized and declare the importance of God in my life……. and then I could hold on for the awesome ride that was coming.
I decided to be baptized and wanted one of my major supports and probably the most valuable abd integral person in terms of my faith formation to be the one to baptize me…Jess Surles. She helped me realize what it means to live well and with God in mind. She made me a better teacher, friend, and person. I believe that God uses relationships to make an impact and to convey his message . Jess was/is in my life for a reason. She baptized me on April 24th, 2007 and though I thought it felt great that day (the pictures and video are evidence enough), my life has continued to change. I didn’t realize that day that two soon-to-be close friends were in the water right beside me and through all of this I have met the most amazing people, traveled to amazing places while helping both spirit-filled and spiritless people. On a daily basis I feel safe, loved, comforted, energized, motivated, passionate, and called to love on people. Of course I have bad days, but those days aren’t too many and I have a different definition of bad these days. I owe everything in my life to God and wish nothing more than for everyone to experience the same greatness, wholeness, happiness that is possible with God.
Jess baptizing me was a momentous part of my life and she will always hold a special place in my heart for all she does and continues to do. I know that many people have their own “Jess” in their life or they are the “Jess”. I believe that’s one way that God works, through people. Either way, it’s one piece in the puzzle to getting together with God. You can be the one to make a change or help someone else to make the change, both are of great value. Rock on God!!!! Keep filling people up!
Written by Rachelle Fink. Photo by Lauren Rosenau Photography.