By Kat West
** This is the fourth installment in Kat’s conversion story to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to read more of her story, click here.
Originally I had planned to celebrate my 28th birthday in Las Vegas. I imagined I would be spending the time staying up late, sipping some drinks while trying my luck on the slot machines, but that’s not what happened. Instead I would actually be doing almost the complete opposite by swearing off drinking and gambling all together, along with
making a commitment to God by being baptized and confirmed as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Most people I knew were baptized as a baby and never had a choice in the matter, but I found it interesting to know that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actually don’t baptize children until after the age of eight when they can make such an important decision for themselves. This is because before then they are not old enough to be held accountable for their actions. In a lot of ways, I think it makes more sense to be baptized as an adult, to have time and life experiences to guide you in making such an important choice. Personally speaking after a life void of faith and then discovering it was like night and day. After living so long in the dark I knew I couldn’t go back. I had prayed and thought hard about it before deciding to get baptized. Even though the choice was clear, I still felt nervous. But it helped that the person baptizing me was my husband, by the authority of the priesthood.
I thought all it took to get into heaven was just to be a good person, but even Jesus Christ a perfect man with no sin, was baptized (Matthew 3:13-14, 16). This is because God commanded everyone to be baptized. Jesus set the example for us all to follow and taught that even he wasn’t exempt from the Lord’s commandments. His example showed us baptism is so much more than being cleansed of your sins. It’s making covenants or promises to God and receiving his specific blessings in return. If we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus and keep the commandments, He promises to forgive us for our sins, give us the gift of the Holy Ghost, and puts us on the path to have eternal life.
When my baptism day finally came around I couldn’t help but feel anxious and excited as my family and fellow church members gathered in our church building to witness my baptism. My husband, Josh, and I both changed into some super flattering (not really) white coveralls and met everyone in one of the church rooms to begin . We started with a song and a talk from the Bishop and before I knew it, we were headed to the baptismal font. It’s a large rectangular tub with two sets of stairs, I went down one side while Josh went down the other and we met in the middle. The water was very nice and warm. I held his arm like instructed as he said the blessing over me and immersed me fully under the water, just as Jesus was baptized. I came out of the water with a smile, hugged and kissed my husband, and just like that, it was over. I was expecting to feel different but if I am being honest, I didn’t, just soaked.
After I had dried off and changed into normal clothes everyone was waiting for me to start the confirmation. I sat in a chair while Josh, the Bishop, and my father-in-law placed their hands on
my head. My husband received inspiration and guidance from God through the Holy Ghost and relayed it to me through a blessing. After the blessing, I had the option to bear my testimony. I originally declined but after receiving the Holy Ghost I suddenly felt prompted to. I hadn’t rehearsed or prepared anything, but somehow I said everything that was on my heart and mind in that moment. I was able to successfully convey words of appreciation to my supportive family, my wonderful husband, and the members of the church that attended. I was overcome with emotion while I expressed my new found faith and belief in our Savior and Heavenly Father.
So even though it I didn’t get to go to Vegas, I didn’t stay up late partying, and I didn’t win any money gambling, what I did receive instead far exceeds in worth. I am so grateful for the way my birthday turned out, It was a very impactful moment for me and an experience I will always remember. Being baptized was just the first step into my new life and I was excited to see what the future held for me. I felt like I had hit the jackpot.
UP NEXT : Spiritual Roller-coaster