May 25th, 2010
12:20 PM ET
What was it like to go on a pilgrimage? How did it feel the first time you spoke in tongues? Where did the experience of a week-long meditation retreat take you?
The CNN Belief Blog will occasionally share the spiritual journeys of others and begins with this one from Jascinth Hall, a 26-year-old wife and mother of three who was baptized - along with 109 others - on Saturday, May 8, at Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. This is her account of the experience, in her own words.
There’s a generation of people in our churches, in all churches, that never left the church but left the church. You're there every week, you hold down a pew, but sometimes you're not even listening to the preacher.
My father’s a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, so I was raised Seventh-day Adventist. When you’re a child, you do as you’re told. But as an adult I wanted to make an independent decision of my own to be re-baptized.
It had been a long time since I'd prayed. It had been a long time since I read the Bible. But it's never too late. It's only too late when you give up on yourself.
Re-baptism is a common thing in the church. As a teenager, even as an adult, I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve sinned. I wanted to just give my life completely over to Christ again and say, “Lord I know I’ve made mistakes. But I know that you forgive me for my sins. I know that you’ll take my life and make it worth something - make it of some value.”
I hadn’t told anyone I was getting re-baptized. I wanted it to be a surprise. I'd been praying about it, and I knew it was something I needed to do just for my own soul.
When I woke that Sabbath morning, I just felt that the Lord was saying, “I can see in your heart that you're good, and this is me giving you a clean start. It may not be the end of all of your mistakes, but I'm here, and I always will be here.”
Having that feeling that you have a God that's always going to be there for you and always going to care for you and just loves you is a good feeling.
We wore nice white robes. Even though before you may have sinned, it signifies that when you come out of that water you're going to be clean. Every sin you've made in the past is gone. So even if you can't forgive yourself, it's as far as the East is from the West with the Lord.
Before you join our church, there are beliefs or foundations that we want you to understand. We [those being baptized] don't recite them, but they go over them and you agree to them in front of the congregation.
You go up to the baptismal pool. It's an indoor baptismal pool – not a big space, but it's enough space for you to get three people in and baptize side by side. It’s located behind the choir loft, and it's lifted up and seen by all.
It's like a little journey in that traveling time going up the steps. I just thought about a lot of things. My children. My husband. The choices that I’ve made. How I'm seen as a person. Who I come off as, and who I want to come off as.
I was waiting to go into the water, standing at that window, just looking out and thinking. I do hear the Lord talk to me. We do have conversations. So at that time, I was having another conversation. There was just a moment when I looked out the window and I was like, “Lord, I don't know what the next step for me is. I don't know what you want me to be in life. I'm not perfect, but if you'll have me, I'm coming back to you.”
Going in the water, it feels very tranquil, like a bath, like a warm bath. When I read the Bible, you hear about Christ baptizing in the Jordan River. You could just imagine how great that water must have felt. We don't have Jesus baptizing us, but it still feels that same way. You’ve got people who support you there at the church standing up, and they're singing, and there's music. The pastor’s got this great smile. It's almost like going into a concert and being the featured guest. It's just a great feeling to go in there, and when you go into the water it’s just like peace when you come up.
It was quick. It's probably all of maybe five or 10 seconds, but it feels like forever when you're waiting.
That experience is one of the best experiences that you can possibly go through. If it’s one time or five times, it's a great experience because every single time you go into that water you feel that pressure, or that burden of guilt, just lift and it's gone.
I felt happy – a real sense of the word happy. It's not a material thing. It’s not something that you can buy. It’s not something that you can render to somebody else. Only the Lord can give you that sense of peace and that's what happiness is, I think.
CNN’s Jessica Ravitz, who interviewed Hall, condensed and edited the transcript for length and clarity. Most of the featured photographs were taken by CNN’s Robert Johnson, who attends Hall’s church. If you want to share your own spiritual journey, tell us about it in the comments section or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.