Two months after Jane was born, a dear friend of ours was baptized and I was asked to speak at her baptism. As I pondered what I would say about the ordinance of baptism, I kept thinking of the scripture in John 3:5 "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" Having recently given birth myself, I was in a position that the Lord could open my heart to some of the lesson Christ is trying to teach us here about what this ordinance means to Him and what it means to us. Here are 8 lessons I learned from Jane that I think He is trying to teach us.
1. We are absolutely pure and innocent after baptism. Could the Lord explain to us any more clearly that are sins truly are washed away and we are absolutely clean, than to compare us to a newborn baby?
2. It is a not a small, casual thing to be baptized. The cost of our purity is the Lord's Atonement. He described His experience like this, "which suffering caused myself even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and shrink and would that I might not drink the bitter cup." Those are some of the same feelings experienced during labor and birth. Just as giving physical birth requires great sacrifice and pain, giving spiritual birth requires the ultimate sacrifice and the pain of the Atonement. But why do mother's go through birth? Because they love their children. Because it is so worth it. The Lord loves us and we are so worth it to Him.
3. The Lord feels great joy when we are baptized. I had been caring for, nourishing, and creating a bond with Jane for 9 months, but the first time I saw, touched, and held her was incredible. The emotion I felt in that moment is impossible to describe, like I was overflowing. I was so excited to have her. I don't know that I've ever felt more intense joy in my life. Likewise, the Lord nourishes and strengthens his children and prepares them for baptism. He looks forward to that day with anticipation. When we are born again, in Him, He is as happy to have us as a new mother holding her child for the first time. What a powerful image to describe his joy.
4. We take Christ's name, and all that entails. Jane took our name and she is a part of our family. Being a Teixeira carries with it a great legacy as well as responsibilities and blessings. Taking Christ's name makes us part of His family which carries great responsibility, but it also makes us heirs to all that He has.
5. The Lord is proud of our development. I am excited about everything that Jane does. She does not have to be perfect for me to be proud of her. I'm not waiting for her to cure cancer or land on the moon before I have joy in her development. I'm happy every time she holds up her head or smiles or holds her rattle. A new convert may feel like they are not doing things worthwhile compared to other seasoned members of the Church, but the Lord is so proud of every new development.
6. The Lord will never leave us alone. I always know where Jane is and what she is doing, even when she cannot see me or doesn't know that I am watching her. I would never, ever leave her alone. The Lord is even more aware of us. "I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand and on your left, my spirit will be in your heart and mine angels round about to bear you up."
7. We are dependent on Him, and He will provide everything we need. As I was nursing Jane, she was absolutely dependent on me, and I was giving her everything she needs. If she told me "I can do this on my own now. I don't need you", she would have died. Telling the Lord that is just as silly and we will die spiritually. We need His nourishment everyday. He gives himself to us as a mother gives herself to her child.
8. I don't want Jane to stay like this forever. I want her to grow and develop and experience the joys of life. I imagine her a few years from now in her pre-school class telling her teacher, "Someday I'm going to be a Mommy too!" Her teacher would never say, "That's impossible! You can't read. You can't spell your name. You can't tie your shoes. You can't reach the stove or use a vacuum. You can't drive a car. You don't have any money. And you're not married! You could never be a mommy." Even though all of those things are true right now her teacher would never say that because she can see Jane's future. She will grow up and learn all of those things and earn money and get married and someday she will be a mom. And that is exactly what I want for her. That is exactly what I'm training her to be. Because I love her and I want her to experience all the joy that I have. That is what loving parents want for their kids.
We have a loving Heavenly Father and even though it may seem impossible now that we could ever be like Him, He sees our future. He knows our potential. And that is exactly what He is training us to be. That's what loving parents want for their children, and we are His children.