When English Fails ( … or why I got baptized twice)


Dear readers, I’ve missed you terribly.  I’ve literally been blogging for my supper on another platform the past two months, as over the summer I take up a job as blogger for a kids’ camp.  This process leaves me so little time that all of you who follow me here wind up sorrowfully neglected.  For that, I am sorry.  But I’m back now.  And now, for the first post in three months, prepare to be nerded out upon.

I’m a bit of a language nerd.  I probably should have gone to school for linguistics.  Whenever I’m listening to a sermon and the pastor goes into the etymology of a word or explains the meaning of an original Greek or Hebrew word, I get so much more out of whatever’s being said, because my brain works that way.  When I was a teenager I had this lofty goal of being able to speak 10 languages by the time I was 30.  I’m not going to make it…. I speak approximately 2.5 (my Spanish is RUSTY and while Latin was fun, it has no practical application so I don’t count it), and I have just over 3 months until my 30th birthday.  7.5 languages in 3.5 months will not be happening.

All this to say — I’m fluent in French, and being fluent in French has shown me a lot of the places where English just falls on its face.  If you already speak French, you can skip this paragraph as it’ll be an explanation you likely won’t need.  You see, in French, there are two ways to say “to know” whereas in English there is only one.  In French, there are at least two ways to talk about loving someone…. English?  One.  In French, the need for that cliché “I like him but I don’t liiiiiiike him” distinction wouldn’t have been necessary when we were teenagers, because we’d have just used a different verb.  But I digress, back to knowing.  There are two ways in French to say “to know.”  Connaître (to know) and Savoir (to know).  The difference is…. Connaître refers to knowing someone on a deeper level and Savoir refers to knowing about someone or something.

If I wanted to describe knowing my best friend, I’d say “Je connais ma meilleure amie.”  If I wanted to say I know how to get to the store, I’d say “Je sais comment aller au magasin.”  And everyone would understand that I don’t mean I know about my best friend or that I intimately know the way to the store.  See how much better that is??

And now for the point.  I’ve recently discovered God in a whole new way.  Through a process of getting so endlessly tired of ‘religion’ (the art of following rules for the sake of following rules and usually losing Jesus in the mix), I went on a quest to find Jesus and bring Jesus back to the forefront of my faith journey.  You see, I’m a Christian…. but I’m one of those Christians that’s aiming for Follower of Jesus.  But this has not always been true of me.

I have spent YEARS (regrettably) doing the ‘church thing’ because I knew it was the right thing.  And only for that reason.  Not because I truly wanted community with fellow believers.  Not because I deeply wanted to know God more.  Not because I relished opportunities to enter into service of my King with fellow believers.  Nope.  Because it was right.  Because it was one of those things I was supposed to do.

And this sounds incredibly lame but I can’t think of a better way to say it.  I’ve found Jesus.  I am sitting here, writing to you, with a heart full of wanting my faith to go deeper, wanting to know my Saviour more, and never ever wanting to be in a place again where I’m complacent and going through the motions.

This process of connaître style knowledge of God led me to a decision this summer while at Camp.  I decided to get baptized a second time. 

I’m quite sure there are some of you out there going “whoa!  Doesn’t she know that baptism isn’t the way to Heaven and blah blah blah judgement.”

I do know that.  Je sais.  Je sais.  (see what I did there?)

I have not usually heard or felt very clearly any instructions from God.  I suppose that’s probably because I was rather far away or for whatever reason… I don’t know.  I mean…. who am I to suppose I know why God works the way He does?

Anyway.

This summer, I could not shake the notion that being baptized a second time was something God wanted me to do to make this new commitment — this finally realizing that I’d been using the wrong verb all these years — a public thing in front of people I cared about, who cared about me, who loved me, and who would keep me accountable in this next step.

I was baptized the first time when I was nine years old after having given my heart to Christ at eight after a Campfire at summer Camp (the very summer Camp where I now spend my summers blogging).  I understood what I was doing, sure… but it was admittedly far more of a ‘savoir’ understanding than a ‘connaître.’  I think that makes sense at 9 years old… but it doesn’t make sense at 28 and 29 years old to have a view of God that is distant and limited… not when you never walked away.

So I started seeking.  And finding.  All of this seeking and finding culminated in a conversation with one of the pastors of my new church, who happened to be one of our family camp speakers… asking basically if it’s ok to be baptized twice.

He explained baptism this way (language nerd alert):  the Greek word bapto means to wash… it was what would have been used for the people at the time going to the ritual baths and continually cleansing themselves.  The Greek word baptizo means transforming something in a way it can’t go back from.  Kind of like pickling a cucumber.  Once a cucumber has been turned into a pickle…. it doesn’t turn back into a cucumber over time.  So when I asked him if it was ok to be baptized twice, he explained that as an outward symbol of an inner commitment, if I was sincerely feeling like God was telling me to do something, I shouldn’t ignore it.  Not that one needs to be re-pickled, but as a demonstration of what God is doing right now.  Were we to have the conversation again verbatim next summer?  Yeah… it’d be a different answer… but given the transformation and my rediscovery of the Jesus I’d left hidden just beneath the surface, we both felt it was an appropriate expression.

My former Youth Pastor was up for our last week of camp.  He was the pastor for teen camp, and so I asked him if he would dunk me in the lake.  It was truly a memorable experience for me, and one I’ll refer back to for years as that moment when I said “I’m all in.  I want to KNOW You, and I will walk with You.”  Our worship leaders for the week jumped in and led those watching in “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective while I got dunked (do you know Rend Collective?  For those with a soul that sings folk music, it’ll be a breath of fresh air I promise), and I walked out rib-cage deep into the not-quite-warm-enough lake and came up a different person.  Symbolically, of course, but I know that I was being obedient, and I know that Jesus was smiling.

And I love that.

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