I watched as she walked down the steps of the pool into the cool waters. Today she was making a public statement that she was indeed committing her life to following after Jesus. I stood next to her mom as we listened to her story of life change and her newly formed beliefs. I could tell her mom was uncomfortable with this whole ordeal. The church scene was something foreign to this family yet she was here to support her daughter. As the young lady emerged from the water I leaned over to this mother and said, “You should be proud of your daughter”. She asked me “Why?”
It is a good question isn’t it? For those of us that have grown up in the church it seems obvious, so much so that maybe we forget to look past the ritual into the amazing symbolism of baptism. To many families the idea of their kids becoming “religious” is a terrifying thing. I knew one young person who was exploring different religions who was kicked out of the home for having a Bible and a copy of Blue Like Jazz. I have sympathy on these families because they are helpless watching their children purposefully moving in a belief structure that they either don’t understand or fundamentally disagree with. I would have difficulty in watching my own kids do the same thing. I would have a lot of questions for them and also for myself.
Ultimately, to me it comes down to a quote I heard in a movie trailer for “Sucker Punch” this weekend:
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
This simple statement outlines much of what it is that I do in my work with teens. I do work for a Christian organization and I am thrilled when young people get to know Jesus as I have. My faith and friendship with God serve as my motive not my definition of success. I would rather see young person become friends with God rather than a convert to Christianity. I can present ideas but I can’t make people accept them.
To this mom I said that looking into a world of young people that are tossed around by drugs, sexual exploitation, abusive relationship, teen pregnancy and an ongoing list of terrible things that I’ve witnessed as a Youth Worker it is an indicator that these kids don’t have anything for which they will take a stand for. That day as her daughter was baptized she was saying that be it a popular choice or not she does stand for something. The mothers eyes filled with tears and she went straight to her daughter as she came out of the pool, looked her in the eyes and said, “I am so proud of you.”