I wake up in the dark. There is a small light from the moon peeking through the blinds. My husband is next to me, his arm draped over me, protective. I fall back to sleep only to dream. Dream with such clarity, I will spend days wondering if perhaps it was a long forgotten memory.
I am panicked. I am late and I feel stressed. Chaos seems to fill the air, but I can’t let it stop me. I must get somewhere soon. It’s very important. I walk into a changing room and take off all my clothes. I remember seeing my shoes, my black Steve Madden heels and I flip them off my feet in a hurry. I don’t care that they hit the wall. I’m late. I am given a white jumpsuit and I put it on without comment. I expect it to be itchy against my skin, but it isn’t. It’s actually soft.
My stomach is in knots. There are so many emotions sweeping through my body that I can’t distinguish sadness from happiness.
And then I’m standing on the steps of a baptismal font. There is a young man who is already in the font.
He’s waiting for me.
He’s dressed in white too. When he sees me, he smiles. A kind smile, a smile that reaches my heart as if it were a hug. I stand there, frozen. I know you, I think.
I know this man.
He smiles and holds out his hand, motioning for me to come towards him. I do. I want to hold his hand and cry on his shoulder.
I know him.
I am sad. I want to be baptized, I need to be baptized. He seems to know my thoughts and squeezes my hand. He comforts me without me having to tell him why.
I see people watching us. They are all smiling. There are children and adults and they all seem to be there… for me.
But these people…as happy as they seem to be for me…they are strangers. My children and my husband are not here.
My family is not here.This is why I’m sad. Where are they? Is this worth it…my getting baptized when my family is not here with me? I question my decision.
I look at the young man. He is my friend, but he is more than a friend. He’s family. I know that much, but I don’t know how we are related. We just are.
He knows my thoughts and I know his. He doesn’t say anything but I hear his thoughts and I’m told to listen. Just listen.
A still voice whispers for me to be joyous… for whilst my husband and children aren’t there at this moment, GOD is very much here.
“Are you ready?” the young man asks moving my hand down to his wrist for me to hold on.
I feel myself going down…
I do not remember what prompted me to go to the LDS website, it only matters that I did.
I schedule a visit with the missionaries.
It is Monday evening. My husband has the kids at soccer practice. I’m on the couch watching television and fall asleep.
I wake up to a knock at my door. I groggily ask “Who is it?” and I hear: “Missionaries.”
I take a glimpse in the mirror and see my hair is in disarray and my makeup is smeared. I think about keeping them outside to redo my makeup, because I’m vain like that… but then I feel guilty for thinking
such a thing. I correct it by thinking I will invite them in first…and THEN redo my makeup.
I open the door and see two young men. One is tall, maybe 6’2 and the shorter one is about 5’9. The shorter one, Elder D. thrusts his hand out and says in an energetic tone, “How’s it going? It’s Jaime, right?”
“Uh…right. And you are?”
“Elder D. And this-” He says pointing to his companion, “Is Elder J.”
Elder J holds out his hand for me to shake it. “How do you do,” he says. He smiles.
I invite them in.
It could be my contacts are smudged from sleeping with them in my eyes. Or maybe my eyes are going bad, because when Elder J sits down on my couch there is a bright yellow light around his head. I shift in my seat and try to eye him in a different angle, but the light is still there. I even shake my head a few times. They seem to notice my shifting and shaking. Embarrassed, I stop fidgeting and ignore the light.
We sit there for a few minutes in silence. I don’t have time for awkward silences. I want answers. And I wanted them yesterday.
I tell them my spiritual past and I let them know I’m serious about studying. I also want to know their commitment in teaching me.
At first, they seemed taken aback and I quickly make a mental note to tone it down a bit.
We schedule a time for them to come back and they hand me a pamphlet titled Restoration. Elder J writes something on the back. “I wrote a scripture for you to read in the Bible and a verse from The Book of Mormon. Read it and we’ll see you for our study tomorrow.”
Before they leave my husband and the kids arrive home. My husband shakes their hand and the boys shoot them with Nerf guns (as you do).
When they leave, my husband asks what they were doing here.
I tell him I’m going to study the LDS faith. He looks at me and with a pained expression says, “Holy freaking undergarments Woman! Are you kidding me?” I ignore him and walk away. I don’t feel like explaining myself. As I’m walking upstairs I ask God to please give me a nudge to let me know I’m on the right path. It doesn’t have to be big or grand…I just need a little assurance.
I look at the back of the pamphlet. The scripture Elder J wrote for me to read was James 1:5. I will learn later it is a very popular scripture in the LDS church, but this night, feeling quite insecure by my husband’s attitude…I accepted it as a sign.
My husband is not happy about my studying with the missionaries, which is difficult for me to understand. My husband has always been supportive of me. While he may not agree with my beliefs, he has always been respectful. Yet, when I tell him I would be joining the LDS Church, he is livid. He says I cannot take our children to “THAT” church. This comes out of nowhere and I find it hard to handle the shift in our relationship.
My husband is angry. Divorce is mentioned and for the first time
in our married life, I think it is a possibility. He says I’m not respecting him by being baptized. I can’t make him understand. He can’t make me understand. So we retreat to our opposite corners and tiptoe around the subject, afraid to wake up the beast that will roar its ugly head causing us to battle it out.
I love my husband more than I have ever loved any man and the thought of us not being together hurts every fiber in my body.
I want to cancel my baptism. It isn’t worth breaking up my marriage.
“Stay firm.” These words repeat in my head over and over again.
I decide to practice what I’ve been preaching. I decide to go forward with my baptism and put faith in my Heavenly Father’s hands.
I look over at my husband when he’s sleeping. We will be okay. I hear the voice again. “Stay firm.”
My baptism date is July 2, 2009. My husband does not attend and does not allow the children to attend either.
I’m sad when I enter the church. I want my husband and children to be with me.
I have asked Elder J. to baptize me. I see him standing in the hallway waiting for me.
He’s dressed in white pants, white shirt and white tie. I jokingly tell him his outfit brings out his eyes. He laughs.
I have to change my clothes. I enter the bathroom and change into a white jumpsuit.
I am trying not to cry. I sit through the service. There are kids and so many people here…I don’t know most of them. But they all seem happy.
I’m going to be baptized.
I’m shaking when I walk down the stairs of the baptismal font. I am looking down while I’m taking each step, but something prompts me to look up.
When I do, I see Elder J and I gasp.
I know him.
It all starts to make sense to me. At this moment, I realize the times when he looked familiar were because I had seen him before! The dream I had in which I was getting baptized was Elder J! When I asked him to baptize me, I thought nothing of it, other than it felt right.
I wanted to say to him, “It’s you” but I don’t. Instead, I walk slowly to him, tears running down my face and I look out into the audience. I have this hope that maybe my husband has changed his mind. He hasn’t. Strangers are there, watching and smiling.
Then I hear the voice, “Be joyous, for I am here.”
Joy. I feel it.
Elder J asks if I’m ready. I whisper, “Yes.”
He places my hand on his wrist for me to hang on.
I feel myself going down…
But this time…I come back up.