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Why I Became a Mormon, Baptism story

Posted by nebula0 on October 18, 2008


When I left off the baptism was being planned.  Looking back on it, I wonder if I was really ready to be baptized.  By then I knew a lot about Mormonism, I read through all the scriptures, I was aware of most of the anti literature but I was still highly conflicted. 

But the day of the baptism I showed up early.  By the baptismal font in the stake center was a dressing room, and I was dressed in an all white jumper and was sure to wear white underwear and bring a change of clothes.  I was nervous partly because I hated any event to be about me.  I’m one of those people who tries to keep their birthdate a secret so that no one will get the bright idea of throwing a party.  Others tend to interpret that as a sly maneuver and can’t imagine anyone NOT wanting a party, but I sincerely don’t.  I’m one of those people who cannot fathom why anyone would want to be on TV.  So it was that I went to my baptism with an anxiety and a desire to get the thing over with.

Here’s how it went, hymns were sung, a little speech given, then I went to the font with the missionaries who I had selected to baptize me.  You get in the water, which is nice and warm, plug your nose, and you’re dropped under the water.  It’s important that every part of you goes under, if a toe pops up, for example, the whole thing must be done again.  Afterward, I got myself dried up while everyone sang hymns, then I bore my testimony, for the first time.  “Bearing your testimony” is a technical Mormon phrase, it’s a ritual with a particular format, utilized at particular moments.  Acceptable phrasing includes things like “I know this church is true, I know Joseph Smith is a prophet, I know Jesus is the Christ” followed with or preceded with a personal story.  The whole thing is always concluded with “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen”.

I really have no idea what I said, so I can’t share that here.  But standing up in front of those people assembled, in their Sunday clothes (it was Saturday but Sunday clothes are standard wear for a baptism) I felt taken out of myself.  The words flowed but I didn’t control them.  I said the correct phrases at the correct times so as to engage my Mormon audience.  That is, I was now a speaker of the Mormon language: I had converted without even fully realizing the fact.  Everyone was moved, and for the rest of the small party, (what baptism is complete without cookies?) I felt as if I were floating.

Upon retrospect I believe that I was forcing my mind to be split for too long.  On the one hand I had a secret longing to become a Mormon fully, but on the other, I didn’t really buy the whole package.  So it was, the day of my baptism, my mind forced a reconciliation and moved me into the Mormon community.  I adopted Mormon aspirations and ways of thinking and became fluent in Mormon-ese.  This was reinforced when I was confirmed that Sunday and I experienced the same sense of being out of my body, floating- with my decision to join I released my mind from the tension of investigation.  Finally I had chosen to give into my desires to join and shelve my questions and disbelief.

Obviously that didn’t work forever, but you get the idea.

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15 Responses to “Why I Became a Mormon, Baptism story”

  1. Geoff J said

    Hehe. So you spoke in tongues after your baptism eh? (In the uniquely Mormon tongue in this case.) That is a pretty amusing variation on a Gift of the Spirit.

    Good stuff. I am enjoying this series.

  2. nebula0 said

    Geoff– you got it, I got the Mormon tongues going :).

    thanks.

  3. jm said

    As a mormon myself, I just want to let you know something about bearing your testimony. When people fall into the mantra of saying the same phrases, it is a cultural thing. Don’t adopt it for yourself! The mormon church needs to get past that. Bearing ones testimony should never follow any format. You should only bear your testimony if you feel inspired in your heart, and have the desire to share with others what you believe and why……PLEASE don’t be like so many who speak like robots saying, “I know this church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, etc.” It grates on me and many others. We should all be able to express ourselves without saying the same identical phrases. Unfortunately mormon culture has the effect of pushing as many people as possible into one mold. We can be one, but we also do not need to conform to that irritating cultural mold.

  4. nebula0 said

    jm,

    Since I am an apostate that’s not my concern anymore.

    I was just making an observation about how Mormon culture uses certain forms as verbal markers of an act of ‘bearing ones testimony’- a Mormon ritual. Those statements aren’t meant literally usually, as people aren’t even really thinking about what htey are saying or what it even means to say “this church is true”, those catchphrases are used to signal to other MOrmons their loyalty as Mormons or as a precursor to a personal story they would like to share in the format of a Testimony and so would like others to listen to their story as Testimony and not just ordinary narration.

    In short, I would relax about it jm. It’s part of a ritual form now and it will save your sanity to hear those comments that way.

  5. jm said

    You are just wrong on this…..I know some of the things that are said in testimony meeting are really redundant, but the people who go up to the podium don’t just do it for the sake of ritual. They really mean what they say and believe it……they just don’t know how to express it so they simplify it to the basics. Although it’s annoying, I disagree that mormons say the same phrases to signal their loyalty to other mormons. It’s just not true……what bothers me is that you felt you had to say those things when you didn’t even know for yourself wether or not you believed it. Perhaps it’s just the power of the culture that made you feel you had to be a certain way. To be fair, I would be oversimplifying to say that there aren’t also very inspiring, spiritual testimonies given that are unique to the person speaking, and filled with the Spirit. No doubt, testimony meeting brings in a wide range of testimony, and narrative. It is also a reminder of how the church is supposed to be a place where people support eachother, and how we need to remember not to judge but to love one another.

  6. nebula0 said

    jm,

    Do you really mean it when you take the sacrament? Just because something is a ritual doesn’t mean that you aren’t sincere when you are doing it.

    Also, I didn’t say those things. I made it a point to only say what I really thought- I always said “I believe in x y or z” never “I know” because I never felt that I knew. Like you, I got annoyed at what I thought were disingenuous statements, but it is only recently that I realized that those statements are a ritual form, ritual statemetns, that MOrmons use to declare their fidelity.

  7. jm said

    Of course, taking the sacrament is a ritual and there are other rituals as well which are beautiful and wonderful. Part of my point is that bearing testimony shouldn’t be so ritualistic in the way people speak, the repetitive I know this and I know that. The thing I love about testimony meeting is that it does not follow a format, people get up at their own free will and speak from their heart. I am against that time being used by some in such a robotic way. The people who use those phrases in succession (I know this, I know that) are uninspiring. They may feel it in their hearts, but they need to learn how to express it to those who are trying to learn what it’s all about. Again, I am telling you that you are wrong when you say that the statements made in testimony meeting are mormon declarations of fidelity. I am not irritated that they know something. I understand where they are coming from, because I too also know. I had a very spiritual experience while I was sitting in sacrament meeting one day, that left me knowing without any doubt that Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice are real, and affect all of us. I can say I know this without any doubt whatsoever. I understand what it’s like to have a spiritual conviction so strong that you actually know. I know that when the people get up there and say “I know…..” they mean it. They themselves had undeniable spiritual experiences that erased their doubts. It is impossible to really put in words. But it still is frustrating that some can’t come up with better ways to put it! It is a cultural rut. I get where those people are coming from – but I also see how it comes across to those not used to it. It just comes off weird!!!

  8. nebula0 said

    jm,

    I’m simply making a statement about what is, not what ought to be. THe fact of the matter is that a practice that widespread in Mormon culture is beyond an annoying practice– i’ts a full fledged ritual form. You may not care for it, but it’s not going any where soon. I’d suggest letting go.

  9. jm said

    My hope is that more people will help to change that ‘ritual’ so often found in testimony meeting. I wouldn’t care if it was a ritual if it weren’t so robotic sounding and culturally insular. I believe that in time, the general membership will move past this weakness in their testimony meetings, as they begin to realize how weird they sound to outsiders. They will realize that there are many ways to bear ones testimony without having to say the same mantras word for word. It will be so great. I think a generation or two will have to die first.

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  14. Tua said

    I love sharing my testimony with the members of the church every first Sunday! But I always speak from the heart and what I know is true to my experience is in the path my life has taken since I have been baptized as a Mormon. But when I share it I say it the only way I know how and thats with truth and love for our Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ and how much the church has changed my life for the better. I say “I know this church is TRUE” Because of what it has brought into my life that I know to be TRUE in how we live in this time and the teachings that we get form the Book of Mormon. I feel it is for this day and time. I say “I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet” because he was, like those before him (Noah, Mosses, Abraham) were all used as a way to get the messages we needed to stay on the right path. We as heavenly fathers children should know from many story’s before this we should not be so quick to turn our heads and look away because he has always sent a “man” to send us a message and I know he sent us Joseph Smith for our time. I dont know about anyone else but “I KNOW” Deep in my heart that THIS IS THE TRUE CHURCH restored on the earth today. And those who were saved by “Mosses” in Egypt had NO EDUCATION so spelling and any other form of intelligence was a “NON-FACTOR” Lord knows I cant spell most of the time but I know he knows us. BY NAME! not by IQ. @Angela Health. When you come to the church always know that we are human and although we may be quick to judge each other the church will always be TURE! Grateful and Blessed to have been Baptized as a Mormon and more so for the chance to be with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.

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