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.