Tag Archives: baptism

My Testimony

By Guest Blogger Laura Pitt

Most of my life, I didn’t think I needed a God. I was agnostic, at best. When I started college in Seattle in 2009, I was in a relationship with a very manipulative and hurtful person. I turned into a very sad and dependent young woman; as long as I was with this man, I believed I did not need to be accountable to anyone except him. This relationship, and other personal events, led to what I call my “rock bottom” in the winter of 2010. I felt so alone and so forgotten that I didn’t think I should be in this world anymore. These thoughts scared me, and a little feeling, a little voice said, “Just wait, and if you still feel this way tomorrow, get help.” I moved home, sought proper treatment, and went to a local community college in the meantime. (And the guy? He’s out of my life forever!) I learned immediately from my rock bottom that I cannot isolate myself, that my friends and family are here for me and want me to be happy.

After a year of working hard at community college, it was time to return to my university.  When I moved back to Seattle this fall, I quickly became overwhelmed with fear. I kept hearing, What if I’m not good enough?

I remember the day so clearly. I was going to officially declare my major. When the adviser explained opportunities within the major, I broke down crying. I told her that I was upset about my bike (which I discovered that morning had been stolen), but I knew it was just the last straw. I felt alone and forgotten again, and I knew I wasn’t going to get through school (and life, for that matter) if I kept living with these feelings.  They paralyzed me, and I just knew there had to be a way to get past them.

I left the meeting completely embarrassed. I walked back home through campus and saw some LDS missionaries. They’d been on campus a million times before, and I had ignored them a million times before. But that day, a little voice said to me, “Go talk to them. They’ll listen.” When the elder asked to pray with me, he asked afterwards how I felt. I was crying (happy tears, this time!) and said that it was comforting and really nice to have someone pray for me. To which he responded, “What you’re feeling is the Holy Ghost.”

In that ten minute conversation, the elder had demystified so much to me about the Godhead (I had heard of but never understood the concept of the Holy Ghost before). There had to be something to this church, I quickly realized.  The elders gave me a Book of Mormon and made an appointment with me the next day to see their church and to have a lesson.

I tried to bail out of that meeting. I called and listed almost every stereotype about the LDS Church as my reasons for not going, and the elder stayed on the phone with me for twenty minutes explaining why each stereotype was inaccurate. I caved, “Alright, I’ll still meet you guys today.”

And I’m so grateful I did. Each lesson was more and more eye-opening. I did have questions, but there were always answers. Every doctrine and every commandment comes with so many blessings (I can write about this, but it’d take a whole other article!). The elders always asked me to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and to go to church.

I had attended numerous Protestant services in my past, but was never compelled to return. However, I loved every moment on Sunday at church for LDS, and I know now that I love it so because it is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ.  I always felt I had to settle when going to other church services, but this was perfect.

I was baptized and confirmed three weeks and two days after my first meeting with the elders. The adversary used my past against me, telling me I was not worthy and deserving of happiness—there was no point in me trying to be a good person anymore because of mistakes in my past. Through my baptism, I was finally released from the grasp of my past. I promised to God that I will try every moment to be the best person I can be, and that I will not turn away from his love ever again. The gift of the Holy Spirit was the “thing” that was always missing for me. Yes, I had already learned that my friends and family loved me and were there for me, but sometimes they couldn’t understand my feelings and my thoughts. I joined so many different clubs and organizations trying to seek that comfort. The Holy Ghost is God’s blessing to me after I chose to be baptized. My Heavenly Father has always been there for me. He did get through to me in my darkest, most humble moments, through the Holy Spirit, but now I have it with me always.

I testify that Heavenly Father never gives up on you. He will be there for you during your highest highs and your lowest lows. He feels everything you feel, and he knows you better than anyone (even you, sometimes). I know that Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to go through so that I could come Home. He knew it would take twenty-one years of investigating before my heart would be humbled and soft enough to finally receive these revelations. I am not alone, I am not forgotten, and I am loved perfectly by my Heavenly Father. The trials I’ve faced here have built my testimony, and I now have no doubt in the truth of the gospel. My life itself hasn’t really changed, but I face each day now with a peaceful and joyful anticipation instead of dread and fear, and that’s the greatest comfort Heavenly Father can give me.

Squeaky Clean Language

I have a very vivid memory of being on the school bus when I was in 4th or 5th grade and having some boys my age offer me candy if I would say a swear word. When I declined they tried to get a little more persuasive and try to convince me that it didn’t count if I said a swear word because I could just quote them saying it so it wasn’t  actually my own words. To their great disappointment, I didn’t end up saying a swear word that day.  I don’t mean to paint this picture in a persecuting light. The boys were my friends, they were having fun  teasing me and I was having just as much fun being stubborn back to them. I was somewhat of an anomaly to them. I was the only Mormon in my elementary school besides my little sister so they were curious to see what my limits actually were and if I could be bought over by candy.

Avoiding profane and vulgar language is something that most Mormons strive to do. My brother-in-law requested that I do a blog post on this subject to try and help explain why that is. Sometimes it’s not so obvious why it matters so much. In the situation on the school bus I didn’t really know why I wasn’t supposed to say swear words, I just knew I wasn’t supposed to. My reasoning, as it often was when I was younger, was that it was against my religion. At that time that was a good enough reason for me. As an adult though I desire a little more insight as to why our church leaders have asked us to avoid profane and vulgar language.

Now let’s get something straight before I go any further. If you haven’t heard a Mormon use a swear word you probably don’t know very many Mormons. This is something that is difficult for a lot of people to master. Sometimes the tongue is a little faster than the mind but as a general rule we do try to keep our language clean.

What somebody says, or how they say it, reflects who they are. All kinds of assumptions are made about someone based on their speech. If I spoke with really bad grammar people would assume I was uneducated or if I spoke with my best Boston accent people would assume I either had a speech impediment where I couldn’t say my “R’s” or know that I was from Boston. As I have explained before, when we are baptized we take the name of Jesus Christ upon us and agree to be his representatives throughout our lives. That means our language not only reflects who we are but also the Savior. It doesn’t really matter if people are watching and assuming or not, I covenanted to represent Jesus Christ at all times;  when I’m alone, when I’m angry, when I’m with friends, when I just got cut off driving, etc. so my language should also reflect that at all times.

We also don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. We do not use the Savior’s name as an expletive or that of our Heavenly Father. Those names are to be used with only the utmost respect and reverence. In the bible James explains about why language matters. He says that if we can control our speech then we can control our whole bodies but if we allow our speech to be vulgar our lives will follow. He also explains that the same mouth that teaches God’s word has no room for profane and vulgar words, it’s hypocritical.

Mormons don’t avoid profane and vulgar language to be self-righteous  or to prove a point, we do it because we are trying to represent Jesus Christ and want to lead clean lives. But, we’re just normal people and we say things we regret in the heat of the moment or perhaps sometimes the candy being offered just looks too enticing. When you avoid profane language do you notice a change in your behavior as well?

Going to the Temple

While I was in Utah a few weeks ago for my sister’s wedding  I was able to be there when she went to the temple for the first time. In Mormon culture this is a pretty big deal. My whole family was there along with her fiancé, future in-laws and a few other close loved ones. Going to the temple for the first time signifies a lot to Mormons. It usually happens before a big event like going on a full time LDS mission, getting married, or before starting a new direction in life like beginning a full time career. It also signifies a willingness to have a deeper commitment to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In preparation for going to the temple for the first time my sister (as well as myself and most other people that go) take a temple preparation class. Like I said, it’s a pretty big deal when someone goes for the first time. If you are baptized when you are older you have to be a baptized member of the church for a least a year before you go. If you are baptized when you are young you wait until you’re an adult to go to the temple. I used to think when I was younger that so much emphasis was placed on going to the temple for the first time because the person wouldn’t be able to handle it without all the family support and preparation. What happens in the temple isn’t really talked about that much, even within the church, so I didn’t really understand.

With my sister going to the temple and being able to be there for it has made me think a lot lately about going to the temple and I realized I was all wrong  about it before.  When we are baptized we make a commitment to God to follow his commandments and to live the gospel. Often when we are baptized we are young or have just recently learned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Baptism is a real commitment and covenant with God but it is only the beginning and foundation of our commitment to God. Going to the temple is actually pretty similar to baptism in our commitments. In the temple we make commitments and covenants with God to follow his commandments and to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason for all the preparation and support and attention is because these covenants are no longer the basic covenants of baptism.

When I went to the temple for the first time, like most other people, I was an adult and I had learned the gospel for an extended amount of time and I understood it.  Because I was an adult and understood perfectly what I was doing I believe I am held 100% accountable for those commitments.  That is the reason for the preparation and attention, to make sure we are ready to take the next step in our commitment to God.

The temple has a bit of a reputation for being secretive. It’s really not. The words spoken in the temple are sacred so we don’t repeat them outside the temple but the main point of the temple is to covenant with God to keep his commandments that are found in the scriptures. After we make those covenants for ourselves we go to make them in the name of those that have passed on so if they choose to they can also have the blessings of making those covenants with God.

My personal experience with the temple has been wonderful and peaceful. When I promised to follow God’s commandments in the temple God promised to bless me, protect me and help me throughout my life. I love knowing that if I do my part to follow God’s commandments that I will not be alone and I will be helped. The temple is a beautiful place. If you live near a temple I would recommend just going to the grounds to walk around and take in the beauty of the area. It’s really a peaceful place to visit and think and come closer to God.

Mormon Baptism

When I came out to Massachusetts for the first time to look for a place to live I had an interesting conversation with our real estate agent about baptism. He brought up the subject and was telling me about a baptism he had witnessed for a family member. The baptism was of a young baby and it was a communal baptism, he said about 5 babies were baptized at the same time. He didn’t mention the religion but he just mentioned that it didn’t seem right to him. He thought that baptism should be more personal. I told him I agreed with him and that in my church baptism was very personal.  I realized that the way we baptize in the Mormon (Latter-day Saint) Church is pretty unique.

The (not completely) unique things about baptism in our church is that first we do it by immersion. In other words, there is a large font of water and the whole body is submerged in water after a priesthood blessing. You may be thinking that it is pretty cruel to completely submerge a baby when they don’t know how to hold their breath which brings me to the next unique thing about baptism for Mormons, we don’t baptize small children. We start baptizing at the age of 8.

The reason we start baptism at the age of 8 is two-fold. First of all, we don’t believe that man is born with sin. The Atonement of Jesus Christ takes away the sin of Adam, we are each born pure and clean. Babies and small children don’t need baptism to take away sin, they don’t understand good and evil therefore cannot choose evil, therefore cannot sin. The second reason we wait until we are a little older to baptize is that for us baptism is more than just taking away sin it is our first real commitment to God. At baptism we literally take upon us the name of Jesus Christ so that from that time forward we are representatives of Jesus Christ and commit to act accordingly. That is a pretty big commitment, one that each person should make on their own and not their parents. We believe that by age 8 a person is able to understand the basic concepts of representing Jesus Christ and therefore is free to choose for themselves whether they will or will not be baptized.

I remember my baptism. I was born into a Mormon family and was baptized at 8. I remember my parents sitting down with me and explaining to me what baptism meant. I also met with my Bishop, the ecclesiastical leader over our congregation, on my own and he talked to me about baptism. He asked me if baptism was a step I wanted to take and I told him yes. My father baptized me (a family member or close friend that holds the priesthood is normally the one to perform the baptism, not the head of the congregation) and I remember the day quite clearly. My dad made sure the water in the font was warm (something I was concerned about) and many of my friends (both friends in my faith and out of it) and congregation members came to witness. After the baptism I was given the gift of the Holy Ghost by a priesthood blessing to help me to know how to follow Christ and make the right choices for the rest of my life. Afterward my mom served refreshments, banana bread with cream cheese frosting (my favorite), and we all celebrated the day.

Baptism is more than wiping away the past, it is looking forward to the future as a representative of Jesus Christ. It is mapping out the direction you want to take in life. It’s a choice I am glad I made and reflect on often. How do your ideas about baptism impact your life?