2014 is coming to an end and we often look back over the past year and remember times that stand out in our minds, especially ones we want to relive. Many at SMC had a moment like that this past August. As this year draws to a close, here on our SMCW blog, Michelle Cyr, who walked into Lake Cammack with her husband to be baptized, shares her experience with us. What a special time of year to remember what that moment was like in her life and carry it into this new year, excited to see how God will continue to renew each of us daily when we ask Him to. Thank you, Michelle for telling us about this extraordinary moment in your life!
Time stood still.
We all have moments in our lives where we wish time would stand still. A moment you want to relish and last a long, long time.
There was a moment in time this past August, that about 100 people want to hold dear for the rest of their lives. Their baptism.
I grew up Catholic even though I didn’t go to church. I was baptized Catholic when I was a baby and that was the extent of it. I never did communion, much less understand what it was all about. I didn’t really go to church because my mom and sisters are deaf so it was hard to go to church with an interpreter who could sign. So, we never went. But while growing up, people told me, “Oh, you’re Catholic.”
“Well that’s your belief,” I thought. But I didn’t go to church.
And I didn’t go back until about three years ago.
I didn’t know Jesus. I had never even heard about having a relationship with God. I believed there was one out there somewhere, but he was high and unattainable, and way above my head, so I hardly ever thought about Him. But deep down, His Spirit was with me, never left me, and was patient with me even though I didn’t know it.
Years later, I met Chris, my husband, and both of us realized there was something missing in our lives. There was something stirring in our souls and kept us restless but didn’t know what it was. Neither of us had ever had a Bible in our homes. We only knew bits and pieces from it, like the main idea that Jesus died on a cross but we didn’t know the great Story. Through some honest conversations, we realized we wanted to know more about God.
When we moved to Burlington, NC, eight years ago, we found a Catholic church. It was OK. We went to another one but all these denominations were confusing. So we gave up.
Three years go by and one day a friend invited me to come to SMC with her. I said, “Isn’t that a Catholic church?” She said, “No it’s non-denominational.” So I went with her around November a couple of years ago for a few times. I stopped going though. I felt guilty for going because Chris couldn’t go because he always worked lunches on Sunday.
Christ told me I was so lucky I could go and I drew back thinking I shouldn’t go without him. So I stopped going for a year. One Sunday, I was sitting at the light on the corner of Saint Mark’s and read the sign I had never paid attention to before. “Five o’clock?! They have a 5:00 service?” I grabbed my phone and called Chris at work and said, “They have a 5pm service! Do you want to go?” As soon as he got home, he changed clothes and we went to SMC that very same day.
We sat all the way in the back, just like a lot of first-time-goers. By the end of the message we were both in tears. It was the same the next Sunday night. For multiple Sundays we were bursting with chills and tears and we have not stopped going since.
I remember one day Chris said, “I feel God in here.” I said, “I do too.” We had never felt that anywhere else. I really listened instead of just sitting there. I felt it. We both did. I started getting involved and attended a Bible Study and joined Moms Unplugged.
There was one thing though that compelled us the most. One day during a service, an amazing video of a baptism at the lake was shown. I felt tears welling up because for a long time I had visualized myself getting baptized in a lake or river, not inside a church. They do that here! Chris then leaned over and whispered, “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”
The next day, I scheduled at appointment with Angela Presley. I told her I loved the church. I loved what I’m learning but I didn’t really know anything about the Bible. Everything I’m learning, every day, I’m in awe. I read something and I think, “Oh my goodness!” But, there was a lot of things in my past still heavy on my heart. A lot of things have happened in my life since my childhood that have given me feelings of guilt, hurt and doubt and I haven’t been able to forgive someone yet even though I’ve read in the Bible I need to forgive. I felt like I wasn’t ready to be baptized until I got over those feelings. So does that mean I shouldn’t get baptized? I felt like it would be a fraud. Angela said, “No. Your time to forgive will come. You going into the water is your way to give yourself to God.”
Afterwards, I felt I was truly ready.
I prayed, “God, take me now and grow my faith.” We just knew it was time to take the next step. We had asked to be saved through Christ and now understand that your faith can’t grow just going to church. It’s having a relationship with God.
Finally August 24, 2014 was here. It was a day I never want to forget. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. I remember the beautiful sun’s rays shining through the clouds. I remember people everywhere so happy and excited to be there. I remember the worship time and hearing the bag pipe playing as we walked to the edge of the lake.
It really was true. We were getting baptized. We walked into the water and it felt so good. I told Chris and the leaders surrounding us in the lake, “Just hold me down in the water a few seconds longer so I can really let go of everything. Don’t worry, I won’t drown.”
It was time. And then it felt like time stood still. When I had watched others being baptized, I saw people go down and quickly come up. But I kept thinking, what if I go under the water and I don’t feel anything? I really looked like it went so fast. I knew Chris and I would be holding hands and as I told the pastors and leaders, I told him to hold me down a little longer.
When it was time to go down, I felt like the world stopped. Those five to ten seconds it took to go in and out felt like minutes. I felt myself going in and slowly coming out. Time stood still. When I came back up, I felt different. I had the biggest smile of my face. It was a relief. I felt cleansed. It was the greatest day.
Some friends of the family came to our baptism and the little boy said to us when we walked out of the water, “Did you get sanitized?” Laughing, I said, “You know, that’s a great way to say it. I did get sanitized! I took all the germs in me and was cleansed!” I loved that.
Another reason that time was so special to us is the fact that our three children got to see us baptized. It make the experience even better.
I’m still learning a lot, along with Chris and our children. As a family, we’ve really come together and I wish we had started learning about Jesus’ love for us earlier. But I figure it’s not too late. Our children are still young and they see how we’re doing all we can to know God more.
I thank God for saving me and the amazing ways He brings me closer to him each day.