“How much did you write?” by Robynn
Our eleven year old Bronwynn was recently baptized. At our church the Pastor has each person prepare a statement to read or recite before he baptizes them. Often it’s the story of Jesus meeting them in the midst of their selfishness, in the middle of their agonies, in the center of their sin. The stories tell of hope and change, of God’s mercy, of His unending capacity to redeem.
It’s my favourite part of the service.
The night before the Big Baptism Day Bronwynn called her dad and I into our room. We sat on the bed and listened to her read through her testimony. She gave us permission to make one comment, one change. Her writing was so heartfelt it didn’t need much changing. I suggested substituting “Jesus” for “God” in talking about who died on the cross. Her dad suggested rearranging one sentence for the sake of clarity. But that was it. I went on to share that perhaps she might read it a tad slower but she cut me off mid sentence with exasperation, “You’ve already had your one thing mom!”
The Big Baptism Day was remarkable. There were five people who shared their encounters with Jesus. Five people got wet, well…six, if you count Pastor Steve who stood in the water with each person, and said, “I baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” before dunking them under the water.
I was surprised by the responses we got as parents to Bronwynn’s written testament. People wanted to know how much we had written. Granted, Bronwynn and I are very similar. She looks an awful lot like I used to look at that age. She has a quick sense of humour. She’s tenderhearted and kind. She’s extremely talkative. We both like to write. But it was Bronwynn who wrote her story in her own words.
And yet, I like to think that Lowell and I had more than just “one thing” in her editing. I like to think that we’ve written some of our own values and virtues into her story. We’ve tried to live out our own God-stories in front of her. Surely some of that has been captured in Bronwynn’s soul and story too.
Others have written some of Bronwynn’s narrative too. Her siblings have provided personal plot twists. They’ve given her context for conflict. They’ve been an audience to some of her anecdotes. Bronwynn made reference to Sunday School in her story. Our children’s Pastor, Chris, has loved her, laughed at her jokes, taken her seriously. Her Sunday school teacher, Miss Sue, week in and week out suggests re-writes, highlights character traits that the girls might add, circles attitudes that might need changing. Her grandparents see her in motion. They believe in her account. They take her to heart. Her teacher, Mr G, an astounding educator, has seen and affirmed potential in Bronwynn’s chronicles. She listens to him. Bronwynn has aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbours who’ve contributed to her story.
Who’s to say how much Lowell and I, as her parents wrote? Now that I think of it I suspect we did write a fair amount of it, but Bronwynn wrote it down, every bit of it, in her own words.
Oh…except we were allowed one change each!
Here’s what Bronwynn shared:
I’ll start out by telling you the most important part of my testimony. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me. A few months ago I was thinking about dying on the cross and I went over the list of people I cared about and made another list of people I would die for. Unfortunately none of you made the cut. The list is still sitting there, in some random notebook, empty. Though you might want to know that I did make another list of people I would possibly get unconscious for. A few of you did make that list –but only family so too bad for the others. But that doesn’t really matter. What really matters is that on that day I realized the love God must have. I believed before that day but that’s the day that really changed thing. That night I asked God to come in my heart because I realized I had never done that either.
I like that I don’t have to impress God. Even though sometimes I feel I have to impress others I know I don’t have to impress God. But there are other things I like too, like how I can talk to him and tell him everything.
I think of God like my imaginary friend but more than 500 times stronger and more than 500 times wiser and more than 500 times more powerful and more than 500 times more perfect. And not imaginary. But like my imaginary friend God is always there for me. He’s someone I can talk to and someone I can trust.
I talk to God a lot. Sometimes about random things, like, “please don’t put me in a group with that person” and a 1/3 of the time I ‘m in a group with that person. I talk to God thanking him or I ask him for help with problems. I know God is there by the little things he does like when I’m fighting with a friend and my mind is concentrating on winning the argument a random verse that I haven’t looked at for a while or the bottom line from weeks’ past Sunday’s school lessons pops in to my head.
I do wish I could see God face to face or talk to him and know he will respond –but I guess that’s a factor I’m going to have to work around.
I’m not perfect. Sometimes I doubt God or I think the Bible is (just) an amazingly written novel. I join in on the gossip and I treat others unfairly. I cheat in monopoly and I always want my way. I’m not perfect and I never will be. I have a long way to go to even be close to perfect. But I am forgiven. I’m here to say that I want God to teach me and to guide me through the rough times that lay ahead. I want God to lead me no matter what happens. I want him to use me in whatever way he wants to. I want to be baptized because of this.*
*Truth be told—I did add some punctuation and some capital letters when I borrowed her writing for the blog. But I guess that’s what Moms….I mean Editors do!
11 thoughts on ““How Much Did You Write?””
I concur – beautiful!
What a beautiful mature testimony from such a young girl! Love it! Bless her and you her parents!
What a sweetheart she is! Just precious. I love that she is able to express herself so clearly and so honestly at her young age. I pray that she can hold onto that hope and desire to be taught and guided by God through the tough times ahead. Her confidence is well placed.
found your blog from LOS. I wanted to weep with you. Goodbyes suck for me, and I wasn’t a kid doing this. Thanks for your testimony too.
Lana – thank you for this. It’s interesting, whenever I think about that goodbye a lump comes up in my throat and I want to weep as well. It’s as though all the collective goodbyes in my life are wrapped up into 3 major events, and that one is the first. And yes – goodbyes suck. The testimony above is actually from my friend Robynn’s daughter – Robynn blogs for Communicating Across Boundaries every Friday. Otherwise it’s pretty much me with some guest posts interspersed. So glad you followed the link over here. Thank you.
Cool. I’m sure you relate on the same level!
This must be what Jesus was talking about when He talked about becoming like children to be great in the kingdom of heaven! simple authenticity.
I think you’re right. If only we all knew as adults what it means to not have to impress God!