Those who read my blog regularly but do not know the intimate details of my life likely wonder why I've not written for some time. Those who do know the goings on probably wonder regarding my thoughts pertaining to my daughter's baptism today. Julia has endured tremendous trials rising from autism, including an extreme fear of water touching her face, and has lived for years in terror of the thought of baptism by immersion, as Jesus Christ set example and which stands as the mode of baptism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Her love of Jesus and of religion knows absolutely no bounds but the idea of immersed in water filled her with absolutely paralyzing fear. Years ago I had come to the idea that though children of this faith generally accept baptism when they are eight I would support and accept Julia's decision to wait much longer or forego the ceremony altogether. I felt very assured through prayer that the Lord who gave her this trial would understand. I put no pressure on her and repeatedly told her point blank that I would never try to force her to be baptized.
Today my little eight year old stood dressed in white and found herself voluntarily immersed completely in the waters of baptism. She rose with a brief look of panic but immediately thereafter smiled ear to ear and gave a double thumbs up to those in attendance. She changed out of her wet clothes and received a priesthood blessing to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The presiding authority asked her if she wanted to bear her testimony at the end of the meeting. Sitting next to her I heard her respond with a very strong, definitive "yes." She stood, faced the large group of primarily adults and began. In her beautiful, broken autistic language she told us how she knew this gospel was true, how she had been frightened of baptism for years, how she had received her own personal knowledge that this was what the Lord wanted her to do, how the peace of Jesus Christ had come over her and testified that it was right and that He would help her, and that she knew that baptism was right and very important. She thanked everyone for coming and learning more about baptism. This little imaginative girl, who usually would randomly lose track of her speech and begin describing invisible animals during any prolonged speech or conversation spoke with beautiful simplicity and perfect focus of subject. I am not certain that there was a dry eye in the room.
I have often considered that the Lord blessed me with post traumatic stress for many reasons, not least of all that I might better understand and succor Julia in her crippling fears, and it has been a day of too many miracles to address in one post. A virtual army of family members from both sides of her family worked toward helping her accomplish this. I am grateful to God for my mother who catered the celebration, ordered a special doll, complete with a dress to match Julia's. I am grateful to God for Julia's paternal grandparents who, immediately finishing their mission to Italy came to Arizona to attend, and who supplied the rest of Julia's baptismal attire. I am grateful to God for my beautiful sister Coral Newberry, who, though not even a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints anymore, packed up her six children and together with her husband made the eight hour drive from Las Vegas to Tucson, gave the opening prayer at the baptism, and will have to make the trek back to Vegas very soon due to work constraints. I am grateful to God for my lovely sister Crystal Junior, who has been a comfort to Julia in this as well and who directed the music Julia requested during the service. I am grateful to my exquisite young niece October Zitzmann, who proved a heroic reassurance to Julia, offered the closing prayer and due to whose promise to attend my sister made the Vegas/Tucson trip. Many doors were opened by unseen hands to make this possible and I am most especially grateful to God for Julia, whose passionate devotion to righteousness has already proven a heaven sent example of goodness and courage to so many.