Today was the last Sunday before Christmas and our church held a baptism Sunday service. Typically this is done on Palm Sunday but there had been requests to do it again so they decided this would be the week. Little R has seen two baptism Sunday’s before today, and she just wasn’t ready to be baptized. When I had asked her about this baptism she said “I think I will wait until the spring” the topic was closed.
This morning we arrived at church like any other Sunday and my girl was dressed in a nice winter sweater dress. She loves to dress pretty. As the baptisms began she leaned to me and said “I think I will be baptized in the spring”. I said OK and then as the baptisms went on I noticed she was restless. She said to Mike " I think I want to be baptized" and then when I asked her why and if she understood that she would go home in her wet clothes she changed her mind. I few minutes later the pastor gave an invitation for those who did not plan on being baptized that the water was there and what better time than now to do it and that it was OK to be wet and go home in your wet clothing. He explained about baptism and how it is an outward expression of an inward change. Rebecca tugged Mike’s arm and said “I changed my mind I really want to be baptized now”. I sat with her during the song and said “why” to which she replied “I want to show that I have changed and that I want to follow Jesus always”. I said “you know you will be all wet” and she said “I need to do this, I don’t care” and she was out of the seat and heading toward the baptismal as quick as she could get there and never looked back. My little girl was baptized this morning. I was a very proud mama. Later at home she told me it was like a miracle. When she came out of the water she felt new like a normal girl. I broke down crying and hugging her. It was a sweet moment for us.
I had spent some time over the past few weeks reflecting back on my daughters change in the past year and I am astounded at her growth. Now, she has grown physically, in fact she has grown almost 7 inches and gained 20 pounds. She came to us as a tiny scraggly little 8.5 year old and is now a beautiful growing girl. Her physical changes are evident to all who see her but it is the changes on the inside that are the most reflective on my heart today.
A year ago I could not make it a day without some sort of tantrum some which turned into rages. I was contacted almost daily by the school for behavior issues and she was not progressing in school at all. She could not manage social situations and most Sunday’s we had a breakdown of some nature in the church about her behavior. She refused to treat her dad with respect and often belittled him and found ways to say hurtful things that hit the core. We were contemplating whether we could even adopt her because of the string of continued tantrums and abuse she was dishing out. I spent two weeks nursing a black eye and massive bite mark to my arm at the hand of my little girl and numerous other bruises including many to my heart.
Like I said that was a year ago. Here we are today my girl asked to be baptized and I was all too happy to agree that it was time. I am sitting her tonight as she has offered to help clean up after dinner, and is doing her chores without complaint. She is doing well in school and has not been in any trouble this school year. The teachers say she is a delight to work with. She has been able to transition from activity to activity and goes into large social situations without a meltdown afterwards. She is learning boundaries and self-control and she is learning trust. She is opening up and sharing some deep secrets with me. My heart has been warmed most by the sweet relationship she has built with my husband. She has actually said just in recent days how much she misses him when he works late and often asks when he is coming home and if I say he is working late she says “oh bummer”. What a change. A year ago she told me she didn’t know how to be good because the devil was making her do the bad things in her head, and today she is talking about all the things she is learning in church and how much she wants to be closer to God and so much less about the devil being in control. She is adopted and has permanency this year and a new name.
My little R is a compassionate child and cares so much for those in need and those hurting. I can’t wait to see what kind of adult she is going to be. I now see beautiful promise for this child and am so proud to call her my daughter.
Little R has a lot of healing still to go and we have a lot of work still to do and I am sure we will have days that feel like we have taken 10 steps backwards but I will look back at our first year and remember how far we have come.
I have received a beautiful early Christmas present today watching my girl get baptized and the best present I have received this year is the changes I have seen in her and the love that I have for her. I look forward to next Christmas and seeing the growth in my little girl.