“You are going to do what?”
The exclamation was harsh. María knew from her mother’s tone of voice that her decision was not going to be well received.
“Mother, I’m going to be baptized.”
“You’ve already been baptized.”
“Yes, I know, and I’m grateful to you for caring enough about my soul to have me baptized.”
“So why are you doing this then?”
María chose her words carefully.
“Mom, I didn’t understand then. I was only a baby. Now, as a adult, I do understand, and I want to make a public commitment to follow the Saviour for the rest of my life.”
Isabel glared at her daughter.
“So, this is what you think of all my efforts to bring you and your brother up correctly? You throw all we believe back in my face as if it were nothing? You reject everything you were taught?”
“I’m not rejecting anything, Mother. I am confirming what I have come to believe for myself. I told you, and I meant it; I’m grateful that God gave me a mother who cared enough about us to teach us about God. I’ll love you for that for the rest of my life.”
María had thought long and hard about this decision. Her mother had never had any problem with her going to Bible Study with her friends. In fact, Isabel had gone with her and had participated in the studies, often contributing some excellent insights. She was not an ignorant woman when it came to knowledge of the Scriptures.
When María announced her decision to accept Christ, her mother had taken it to be a deeper commitment to spiritual things—that couldn’t hurt anything. But, baptism? That was throwing away part of who she was. Her religious upbringing was as strongly cultural as it was spiritual. Isabel considered being baptized twice, a direct, and brutal, slap in the face. Since she was not one to guard her words, she didn’t hesitate to speak them now.
“You’ve been brainwashed. I should have found some way to discourage you from associating with these people. You are no daughter of mine if you do this.”
The relationship between mother and daughter had always been a strong one. They were friends as much as they were relations. María feared the consequences of her actions. She knew that behind the sweet, generous nature that most people saw in her mother, lay a vengeful streak. Isabel hadn’t spoken to her only sister for many years—the result of some disagreement in the distant past.
“What about Raúl? And the children—what are they going to say about all this nonsense?”
“I’m sure Raúl will support me in this just as he has always supported my decisions. I don’t know what the children will say, but it doesn’t matter. I have to do this.”
It had taken María years to come to faith for herself. She was by nature. someone who weighed her decisions carefully. The issue of baptism was one she prayed about for several more years after her conversion. Her concern wasn’t what the Scriptures said, but with the commitment she was making. María knew that if she publicly confessed Christ, she could not go back on that commitment. Now she was sure. She wanted to follow Christ for the rest of her life. There were no more doubts, no more questions in her mind.
“Well, I won’t have anything to do with it. You have shamed me, your family, your culture, and I won’t forget.”
And Isabel didn’t forget. Whether through stubborn silences or angry words, she heaped his disgust on her daughter’s head, bringing her to tears on many occasions. On the day of María’s baptism, her mother did not attend. The daughter’s tears that day were bittersweet: bitter because of her mother’s rejection, sweet because María was walking in obedience to her Lord. That obedience had come at a high price.
A year passed. To their faces, Isabel was polite to the members of the Bible Study group and the church, but she refused to return to either activities. Behind closed doors, she threw her true feelings about them in María’s face.
By the end of the year, María’s constant expressions of love for her mother, her faithfulness to her Lord, and the prayers of her family of faith, brought at least a partial reward. Isabel returned to the Bible Study group. We continue to pray that she will turn to the Lord just as María had.
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