I had the honor of baptizing my boyfriend’s mom. I was in my early twenties and not exactly livin’ for Jesus, but somehow she saw through the junk I was doing and felt like there was something going on that she needed to be a part of.
If I ever have doubts or wonder if God is working in my life, all I have to do is think back to that time. I was working full time, going to school full time on nights and weekend, drinking like a fish three to four nights a week, dating boys I shouldn’t have been dating, and doing all kinds of things that pushed me further away from God and his will. But I didn’t care, I was grown up and could make my own choices thankyouverymuch!
But don’t worry guys, I was still going to church every Sunday because that made me feel less guilty. There was no relationship with my creator, but I was in that church pew on Sunday come hail or high water. I might have been reeking of alcohol and still hung over, maybe still in my clothes from the night before, but I was there, gosh darn it.
And normally, my boyfriend Scott was by my side.
I’m sure we were quite the sight. Looking back, I’m not sure how I ended up there most Sundays other than the fact I’m a creature of habit and I had went to church every Sunday for twenty years so where else was I supposed to be? I had been dating Scott, my first serious boyfriend, on and off for years. I spent a lot of time at his house and with his parents, probably more time than I did with mine. I didn’t go home much but I went to Scott’s a lot.
At some point when I wasn’t really paying attention, Scott’s parents started coming to church. Not with us, but coming. They would watch more than participate, his mom saying she couldn’t sing the songs because they were projected on the screen instead of in a hymnal and she didn’t know when to sing. They had to go buy new Bibles because they didn’t like their current ones that were a different version than what the minister used. Church was ill-fitting and different than their’s had been years ago. It was a rough start, but they liked it enough to keep coming back.
Then during one of Scott and my “off” times, I got a phone call about his mom wanting to be baptized and would I be willing to do it? She didn’t want to do it at the end of our church service as was customary because there would be a lot of people there and she didn’t want that. She wanted just a minister, her husband, her son, and me.
Even now, writing about it makes me a little shaky. She told me that it was because of me that she was getting to start this new life and she wanted me to baptize her. I remember saying yes immediately because who says no to that?
It was a quiet afternoon when we gathered at church, just the five of us, and Nancy was baptized. It felt surreal and awkward and wonderful and scary. I wondered if God took it serious because of who had introduced her to him. I worried that if she thought how I was living was what real Christians did, then she would be in for a rude awakening.
I know now that God is bigger than the mess I brought into that baptismal years ago. He was using me in spite of myself because he had a plan and it was good and even I couldn’t stand in his way.
I know now as a thirty two year old that I was in a toxic relationship with Scott and not a lot of good came out of it. There were years of drama and yelling and hurt. But then I think about his parents and their journey. I think about the ministries they’re a part of now. I think about the people they’re helping and the kingdom work they’re doing through their careers and through their volunteering.
And I wonder if God didn’t use my bad relationship to bring these two wonderful people to Him. I know His plan didn’t involve me being Scott’s girlfriend or, eventually, Scott’s wife no matter how hard we tried to force it. I had free will and a knack for making bad choices so God used my wayward journey to bring Him glory. He made good out of my ugly.
If that’s not a reminder of God’s love for us, I don’t know what is.