Full Immersion

I was baptized in a little Baptist church in Miami Springs, Florida when I was only six. The water was very cold. It smelled like chlorine. The baptismal pool was on a miniature stage behind the choir loft. Usually, heavy curtains were drawn across it so no one could look at it. But on baptism nights, wavelets from the pool flickered weird shadows on a mural of Jesus standing in the River Jordan.

A white choir robe was pulled over my head for the immersion. It felt so heavy, there might as well have been concrete blocks attached.

The preacher put one big hand on the flat of my back and with the other pinched and covered my nose with a large white handkerchief. I was terrified, immobile, as he expertly pushed on my back, causing my short legs to lose their footing, while pushing my head down under the water with his other hand at the same time.

 “Jesus said, ‘Suffer not the little children to come unto me.’ I baptize thee, Mary Beth Jones, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”

I was sure that my old, sinful, six-year old self was about to die right then, but I emerged, spluttering,  flailing,  and surprised from the cold pool. At that moment, it was easy for me to believe that Jesus had saved me. Despite the best efforts of that preacher to drown me, Jesus saved me. Hallelujah, I was born again.

2 thoughts on “Full Immersion

  1. When I was seven, my mom took me to a church in downtown Neosho, Missouri to enroll me in summer Bible School. The scene you described was exactly what I saw. Maybe these churches have some kind of architectural standard. The whole scene that day was so weird to me that I begged my mother to disenroll me. It was a small turning point in my small life. I ran free that whole summer. Mom had smaller children to attend to and so I was left to explore the whole town on my bike. My spirit spoke out loud for itself, and I was saved.

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