This past weekend, Dottie Lou was baptized. It was a wonderful day filled with such joy. Our little girl — our little family — is so blessed by the beauty, support and love that surround us.
Mr. B and I did not take the decision to have Dottie Lou baptized lightly. We recognize the significance of the event, and we didn’t want to do it “just because.” In fact, we’d started talking about how we feel about baptism when Penelope Joy was in the hospital. And at that point, we had decided we wanted Penelope Joy to make the decision for herself to be baptized. Well … obviously, that did not happen, and Penelope Joy was never baptized.
But, since then, our lives have changed — our faith has changed. When I was pregnant with Dottie Lou, I reached out to our pastor to see if we could have some time to chat with him about baptism, its significance and what baptism means in our church.
One thing I love about our pastor is his “OKness” with questions and honest discussion. (He’s also OK with doubts — which is a topic for another day.) After a nice talk with him — over a delicious Thai meal, of course — Mr. B and I continued the discussion for a while. We wanted to make sure we weren’t making a decision for Dottie Lou that was selfish. And we wanted to make sure we understood each of our own feelings and what those meant for our family.
In the end, we came to more fully understand our religion’s beliefs, our church’s beliefs and, much more importantly, our own beliefs. And, here’s what we believe about baptism and why we decided to have Dottie Lou baptized:
- It is an important rite, as a Christian, to be baptized in the faith. Whether that happens as a baby, as a child or as an adult, we believe that it is part of what it means to be a Christian — and to be a member of the Christian family.
- It is a sign to Dottie Lou that we will raise her in a Christian home and teach her about faith through our actions and through our love of her — and of each other and the world around us.
- It is an acceptance of fellow members of our church as members of Dottie Lou’s extended family — as people she can turn to when she needs someone to hold her up in her faith.
- It is a request for our family and friends to accept, understand and, hopefully, embrace our decision to raise Dottie Lou as a Christian.
Having Dottie Lou baptized means all of those things above. But, her baptism does not mean we expect her to embrace and choose Christianity without her own study, research and experience. We will raise her in a Christian home that encourages — and expects — free thought and exploration. I welcome the days we can have discussions about the world’s religions. I look forward to learning more about Islam and Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism right alongside Dottie Lou.
I want Dottie Lou to choose her religion — or lack of religion — for herself. Her questions will be welcomed, and we’ll find the answers to them together. Her doubts will be embraced, and we’ll all work to become stronger in our faith.
I was baptized when I was 4(ish) years old. And I was raised in a Christian home — with one of the most wonderful, giving mothers showing me what it means to walk in God’s light. But Christianity didn’t just “happen” to me. I don’t even know that I believed in God until a couple of years ago. And every day I fail, in some way, to be the Christian I want to be.
And I hope Dottie Lou’s journey is similar — I hope she stumbles and falls in her faith. I hope her walk of faith meanders through the woods and takes her on wonderful adventures. And, no matter what she ends up believing — which may be different for every season of her life — I just want her to know that she is loved and accepted exactly as she is.