Baptism is the Gate
Aug 7, 2016
Aaron recently celebrated his eighth birthday. We've been anticipating this birthday for a long time because it's a big one. In our church, we believe eight is when you reach the age of accountability (in other words, the ability to make good choices and take responsibility for your own actions) and are therefore ready to make the sacred covenants associated with the ordinance of baptism.
We've spent the last year, but especially the last six months, helping Aaron prepare for this important decision. We wanted to make sure he understood the eternal importance of the promises he'd be making. We've had many family home evening lessons on the subject, as well as some heart to heart chats (which, if you know Aaron, you can probably guess these were mostly one-sided), and Aaron has been more consistent lately with his personal prayers and scripture study.
Yesterday was the big day, and it came with mixed emotions from me. Of course I was so happy and so proud of him, but I also found myself feeling more hesitant than I was expecting, almost like I wasn't ready to let him take this leap. I guess I'm a little bit fearful of the increasingly significant decisions he'll be confronted with, the temptations he'll face, and yes, the mistakes he'll make. The stakes feel higher all of a sudden. His daily life is going to consist of more than just deciding which cereal to eat for breakfast.
But I keep thinking of the scripture in 2 Nephi 31 that says: "For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life." What a beautiful, absolutely perfect analogy. Baptism is the gate, the first step on that path of everlasting joy. Mistakes? Yes, they'll come. It's part of the learning process. But there's repentance, and his claim on the Savior's atonement will never run dry. He can repent again and again and again (and most likely, he will). But now he'll also have the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide and direct and protect him. There's absolutely no need for me to be fearful because he's in better hands than he's ever been before.
If you had seen him yesterday at his baptism, you wouldn't have been able to tell how he was feeling. Aaron keeps his emotions locked up tight. He's calm and stoic, and he rarely smiles in a new situation. (He's the complete opposite of Max who, during the special musical number with all the children, was up on the stand doing crazy things with his eyes and making us all giggle irreverently.) But I know he was excited. And I know he was glad to have the support of so many family members. And I know he understood, at least on a small scale, the significance of his decision. It was more than just being immersed in the water by his dad. It was symbolic of the sacred covenants he was making with his Heavenly Father.
I took some pictures of him a few weeks before his baptism. I ended up only using one of them for the invitations we sent out, so I hope you'll indulge me if I put a few more of them up here.