Sacrament of Baptism
Being raised Lutheran, we believe in baptism as a child, which is when I was baptized. But in my mind it never happened because I have no recollection of it. While I was in junior high, I started taking confirmation classes where I was being taught about the faith I was baptized into. Being a classic moody teenager, I didn't take any of this seriously. I wanted to go to church to see my friends, so I did this without argument.
The day of my confirmation comes. Fifty teens in my church come to get confirmed, and our junior high youth pastor reads the Bible verse I picked out, Genesis 1:27: “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” I went in front of the church with my parents. Pastor marks a cross on my forehead and boom! I’m confirmed. Now this, unlike my baptism, I remember. But while in front of my church I said, in my head, “This is stupid. I want to go home.”
At this point in my life, I was in a weird place with religion. Church to me was a place to hang out with some of my best friends. But that slowly changed. Throughout high school, I was very active in church. I was blessed with a fantastic youth pastor at my church. He led amazing Wednesday night youth groups and great mission trips. If it wasn't for him, I truly believe I wouldn't have grown in faith at all. The environment was always filled with love and you were always greeted with a hug by everyone.
Although surrounded with love, I still struggled with my faith. This was because of one simple thing: I’m gay. Am I going to hell? What if my church finds out? Is it ok to be gay and Christian? I always felt welcomed, but I was scared that someday I wouldn't be. So every Wednesday at youth group, we ended the night holding hands and everyone got to say a prayer either in their head or out loud. Mine was always silent and always the same. “Lord help me with the feelings that I have,” hoping someday I wouldn’t be gay. So every great night, no matter how fun, I ended it with sadness and a plea for help.
My secret was consuming me, so I finally got the courage to come out in college. I got the line “We always knew” several times, but I really was finally happy. But in the midst of all this happening I dropped my faith without even fully realizing it. I stopped going to church and I stopped praying. In my mind I couldnt do both, be gay and Christian, so I just stopped.
After college, I moved to Peoria to continue my career and get a fresh start. One day, I had a feeling to go back to church and I was slowly coming back to my faith. I tried a few places, but nothing felt right. Eventually, I met Josh Lee and he invited me to his church, Imago Dei. On my first Sunday, I instantly knew this was the place for me. I just wish the moody teenager I once was could see this: a church with an openly gay pastor and the feeling of acceptance the minute you walk in. I finally felt comfortable in my faith again.
I have decided to get baptized again in my new faith community.
This baptism to me is joining two parts of my life that I have always struggled with, my sexual identity and religion. I don't have to pick one or the other. All those years of self hate, all those years of being scared of rejection. All those years of running away from faith and myself. I hate running…but I sure did get somewhere. It’s to church to be baptized and to truly open my heart to my lord and savior. I am a child of God. Genesis 1:27, my confirmation verse I picked out ten years ago, mentions we are created in the “image of God.” Who would have thought, with my decision to get baptized again, that it would be at a church whose name in Latin means “image of God?
At one point, I wanted all those years back. But I now realize I don't need those years back. They are a part of my journey. I could not ask for a better church for the foundation of faith that I have, and I could not ask for a better church for me to continue to grow in as an adult. In the end, everyone was okay with it!
Forever thankful for my family, my spiritual and religious guides, and my beloved friends who all had a part in my journey. I'm excited to bring everyone with me as I explore this next chapter.
Todd Northcutt is originally from Bloomington and has been living in Peoria for little over a year with his Weiner dogs Sarah and Tug. He attended school at Heartland College and the Hawaii Institute of pacfic Agriculture where he focused on Nutrition and Permaculture. While in Hawaii he lived in a tent under a macadamia nut tree, and loved every minute of it! Todd has spent a majority of his career working in healthcare and childcare. He is currently working as a Chef at a local childcare center. He loves bringing his passions for good nutritious food into the workplace by introducing the children to food they most likely would miss out on at home. Looking at “picky eaters” as a curable problem. When Todd Is not working, he enjoys taking his dogs to the dog park, reading mystery novels, dumpster diving, thrifting and going on camping trips. Todd is also very passionate about the environment spending a lot of his free time researching new ways I can reduce his footprint on our beautiful planet.