Why I’ve Never Been Baptized

Several years ago I watched my younger siblings do it. I’ve often wondered whether I would ever follow in their footsteps. Been questioned about it plenty of times.

But I already have Jesus in my heart. I love Him dearly. He is everything; He’s the only thing.

For nearly 25 years God’s will has superseded mine, despite countless stumbles along the way. I’m certainly not perfect, but I strive to do the right thing. To love people like God has inexplicably loved me. I believe in Him as sure as I do oxygen or the intoxicating smell of cinnamon buns baking in an oven. When all else fails, He never has, does, or will.

I’m already assured of living with Him forever someday. What else is there?

Why get baptized?

I’ve spent most of my life in isolation. Particularly within church. A cruel irony considering I’ve attended approximately 99.3% of the 1,305 Sunday services stretching back 25 years.

I’ve always gone to church, but I’ve hardly ever felt part of church. Always witnessed the story happening around me, but had never taken part in the story myself.

Baptism always seemed to be a waste of time considering my utter disconnect from the church. What did I matter? Why stand in front of hundreds of people who don’t care about or even know me, only to return to obscurity once the applause dies?

Why put myself through such heartless ritualistic agony?

In a perfect world, sure, I would have done it. Would have taken that clothed bath over a decade ago with no shame over proclaiming my faith. But my world has been far from perfect.

From Georgia to California, I’ve desperately desired a church that would truly welcome me into their fold. But after dozens of church visits and small group experimentation, I was left high and literally dry. My shameful introverted socially incompetent self just couldn’t belong, no matter the building, no matter how hard I tried or wanted it.

Time and again, my thoughts in church would reverberate: Just worship Jesus alone from the end seat. Ignore the other people on this row. Put on a cheesy smile during the greeting. You have nothing to offer these people; they’ll only offer you nothing in return. You’re not worthy of their love.

You don’t really matter here.

But over the last year especially, God has been prodding me out of isolation. Toward connection into the impossible realm of genuine community.

I could write a book on my YouthWorks experience in Milwaukee last summer, and I probably will someday. In short, it was a whirlwind summer of connecting with people — friends — on deep daunting vulnerable levels previously unforeseen and unimaginable.

In my dazed return to southern California last fall, I somehow found a phenomenal church after years of searching. Have also been blessed by a life-changing life group who have graciously welcomed me as one of their own.

I matter.

In reality, I mattered all along. Jeremiah 29:11 was just as true then as it is now. But now I actually believe that promise. That I, indeed, have a story worth sharing and a part to contribute to this Body—even if it’s just a crooked pinky toenail or a single randomly white eyebrow hair that always grows back no matter how many times I pluck it.

Over the last several months my church has been engaged in a series entitled “The Story of God.” We’ve essentially gone through the entire Bible, and I’m in awe over the story God’s weaved over thousands of years. Is still weaving today. The New Testament hit me especially hard.

I went to the park with my e-Bible one day and searched every occurrence of the word “baptized.” Read many stories of people believing in a man who turned their lives around. They just couldn’t hold in their joy; they had to proclaim it. Had to get baptized.

And so after two and a half decades of wandering from church to church and community to community, I figured what better day than my 25th birthday tomorrow to take the plunge. As a writer with a fancy for symbolism, I couldn’t be more thrilled about the timing.

This is, appropriately, the year of “courageous,” but if you were to have told me on January 1st I’d be getting baptized in three short months, I’d have said no way.

God loves working with the “no way.” Fitting.

The thought of getting in front of people is still a butterflies-committing-suicide-in-stomach one, but I’m ready to do this. No more fear. No shame.

If you live in the area and would like to be there, hit me up for the deets. Would be honored to tie the bow on my first quarter-century with you.

So there you have it — why I’ve never been baptized.

Until now.

Seattle Sunset

  • Mlyaksh

    I don’t know if your little bro has told you this, but he’s told me several times that you and I are very similar- he says I’m a more outgoing musician version of you.

    I say this because I have gone through the same thoughts on Baptism. I’ve been baptized twice actually- first time was before I was saved. At 14, I got baptized to appease my parents who said all Christians should be baptized. I asked why for the same reason- I’m saved, what does it matter? Truthfully, there was so much else going on in my life, but no time for that here.

    Fast forward to when I was saved, I wanted to be baptized- but I lacked a church and courage. I was afraid to tell people I hadn’t been saved all those years and I had just left the church I grew up in.

    But God is good- a few months later, I (as weird as it sounds) felt led to get a ring. God didn’t say why. It was not a purity ring, just a ring. God said I’d know why in 4 years.

    Well, when God led me to Compass, I knew this was my church. So I decided to bite the bullet and get baptized. I was scared as they showed my testimony video, but I have to say- it was a moment I won’t forget to finally have been baptized in front of my family, friends, and church family.

    And just fyi, my baptism was four years after I got that ring. Even though I was scared to get baptized, God was not afraid to claim me for His own.

    Congratulations on your baptism! It’s so incredible to hear your story and to witness from afar the awesome works God is doing in you! Proud of you! Oh, and Happy Birthday!

    • TMZ

      Love it, Mitch. Thanks so much for sharing some of your story. Would love to hear more some time. Glad you’ve found a great church in Compass and that your path has crossed with my little bro. He’s okay, I guess.

      Thanks for the congrats and birthday wishes!

  • I didn’t get baptized until I was 25, and when I finally did it I felt like I had rushed it. I’m nearly 28 and I just now think I’m starting to feel like I’m ready.

    • TMZ

       Thanks for sharing, Rob. Glad to be reaching this plateau!

  • Kellyanne

    Wow. Your words have moved me and brought me to tears. So excited for tomorrow. 🙂 you.are.loved.

    • TMZ

       Thank you Kelly! Psyched as well. Much love friend.

  • This post made my heart ache, then leap for joy. I am SO excited for you, my internet friend! It’s so wonderful to find people and a place that finally makes you say YES in your heart. Like it all fits together. Good stuff. Really good stuff. God is GOOD.

    • TMZ

      “Like it all fits together”…you have no idea how appropriate that statement is. He is good INDEED. Thanks for making me smile with your words after I made you ache with mine.

  • Marshall

    I rejoice with you Tom!

    • TMZ

      Thanks Marshall! So blessed by you.

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  • Jared Hill

    Everything is new! What a beautiful story of how evident this is in your life! Happy Birthday brother!

    • TMZ

      I love you man. Will never forget it.

  • Kristina

    I feel the same way. All of my sisters have been baptized. I love the Lord with all my  heart I am just a very shy person. Nobody noes about me accepting Jesus into my heart but me. Is there a problem with that? Please give me some advice.

    • TMZ

      Hi there, Kristina. First off, thank you so much for reading and commenting. And secondly, am touched that you would share that bit about yourself. For over two decades I was utterly convinced that I would never get baptized. No church would welcome me with open arms, and I felt secure enough in my faith that I wouldn’t dare risk stepping into the spotlight in the name of ritual. I believed in Christ as my Savior, and that was all I needed.

      It’s taken several years of relational growth, especially within the church, but God’s slowly been breaking those walls down. He’s told me that I’m not beyond all hope and that He delights in doing the impossible. As little as 3 months ago I’d have said no way to baptism. And yet just last week, I did just what I thought I’d never do: get baptized. I’m super shy too, and I still can’t believe it all came together. Well, I do actually; it’s all God.

      Never underestimate His power and what He’s doing or wants to do in your life. I’d encourage you to pray about this issue. Be completely open with God about it. Tell Him you’re scared, or you don’t see the point, or whatever it is you feel exactly. He’s not afraid to hear you. He wants to hear you.

      You’ll be in my prayers. Would love to hear more from you as your journey unfolds. Much love.

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