I did a thing yesterday that I swore I would never do. I got baptized.
This is a loaded word for me. A complicated word. It is a sentence that I never thought I would write or speak of as an adult. It freaks me out to be telling you so publicly. It feels like something that should be a secret not a celebration.
I got baptized.
This is not my first baptism. My first baptism happened when I was 8 years old. It was in the Mormon church. I got baptized not because we were Mormon but because all my friends were doing it and I wanted so badly to belong so I BEGGED my mother to let me.
That baptism was horribly traumatizing for me. My paternal grandfather baptized me. That day he also sexually abused me (not for the first time). I swore I would never believe in God or religion again.
I remember the first time I prayed. It was August 16, 2010 and my ex-wife had left me 5 hours after I got inseminated. For 3 days I lay eviscerated on the kitchen floor and prayed over and over to God.
“Please give me someone who loves me for who I am and give me my own family.” “Please give me someone who loves me for who I am and give me my own family.” “Please give me someone who loves me for who I am and give me my own family.”
A few months later I met the man who would change my life forever. He loves me for who I am and he gave me my own family. Flash forward a few years after that and I met my friend Mark Clymer. His quiet demeanor and love of the Episcopal faith inspired me and I craved the conversations we would have about his upbringing and his faith. It was our oldest daughter Katelynn who last year said, “It is time for us to go to church.” The first person I called was Mark.
We found the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Corvallis, Oregon through the magic of love and connection. It is here that I discovered a sanctuary where I could be surrounded by love and grace. Where I can cry and cry when I feel called to do so.
The Church of the Good Samaritan has become my safe space. The place where my talents for engaging in social justice work do not go unnoticed and my work is encouraged as divine. The place where I can count on any of about a hundred old ladies to hug me weekly. The place where I cry during Sunday service and walk the Labyrinth when I need to breathe. The place where Father Simon Justice has walked me through some deeply difficult transformations.
Today, I got to rewrite my story and shift the narrative that I am unworthy of Gods love. Today, I cried ugly tears in front of our entire congregation as the Bishop the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon welcomed me into the faith. Today, I said goodbye to the myth of an 8 year old girl who has believed for the last 36 years that she is dirty and shameful and bad.
I am worthy. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of Gods love. Peace be with you. And also with you. Amen.
Create some mayhem, raise some hell. Dr. Melissa Bird
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