Gremlins


I haven’t written in a while. I suppose there are a number of reasons for this. The obvious and perennial reason being busyness. The other that whenever I think of something I might like to write about, I’m at work.

Or, the most common, my gremlins tell me it’s not interesting enough. Brené Brown gets the credit for the gremlin imagery – they’re the voices inside your head that tell you you’re not good enough.

Mine keep telling me that whatever I’ve thought to write about is boring.

No one needs to read about that.
What’s the point of writing about that? It’s not profound. You call yourself a writer (sometimes), and this is what you come up with?

My gremlins are liars, but sometimes I believe them. That word, “boring,” gets me every time.

It must have been some unthinking middle school boy who said it. Or maybe I told myself based on a comparison with the other kids my age. No matter. I got this idea in my head during some formative time in life that I was boring. Like, painfully so.

I owned it for a long time. I guess I thought that if you accept something other people have said about you and say it about yourself, you’re in control. If I tell you I’m boring before you figure it out, it’s better for me. Then you can’t hurt me. There’s a wall there, some protection because you can’t tell me I’m boring. I already have claimed it.

Good friends are treasures. I have a couple good friends who, though they may not know the gremlins who remind me of all the ways I’m boring, have heard me own that I am. Their response astonished me. I expected them to pat my shoulder, nod knowingly, and smile, saying, “Oh it could be worse.”

Instead, they usually cocked their head to one side, looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t think you’re boring.”

At first I thought they were just being nice but I’ve realized that they mean it. Of course, by some people’s standards, I probably am boring. But by my own and my friends’, I am not.

I didn’t have to ask them to counter the gremlins. I didn’t even realize I was believing a lie. And really, in the end, it doesn’t matter if I’m boring. It matters if I think I’m worthy. And thinking I was boring made me think I wasn’t worthy of the friendship of people in my life who were exciting.

By the way, if we’re friends, there’s a good chance I think you’re pretty exciting.

The gremlins were just telling me how boring it is to write about how you used to think that you were boring. Maybe it is. But I think I’ll take the chance.

Cinco de Mayo bookmark


Every year, Cinco de Mayo creeps up on me. It never feels like it should be quite so far in the year – May 5th, already? The day wouldn’t be much more to me than someone else’s celebration if it weren’t also the day I was baptized, 14 years ago. Granted, if the day I was baptized wasn’t also Cinco de Mayo, I probably wouldn’t remember that either.

But because the two coincide, I do remember both. Most years I reach this day and am only reminded that I’m getting older.

I’ve spent some time this year thinking back to what it means that I’ve been baptized.(Marilynne Robinson had a good deal to do with it) One of my pastors used to say–every time someone got baptized–that baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. And it was. But a lot of the time, I saw people getting baptized from whom I’d already seen that outward expression of inward change, a shift from old to new, a surrender. Their lives were already speaking to the Spirit at work in them.

I got baptized in second grade. And I don’t remember what made me think I wanted to be baptized. It could have been a number of things:

  1. Brooke had done it already.
  2. I’d heard people talk about it a lot.
  3. I really did love Jesus and knew that was something people did when they’d decided to follow Him.

But whatever the reason, I told my parents I wanted to get baptized. My dad made a worksheet for me, questions to answer about why I wanted to get baptized. I guess he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, that I wasn’t making the decision impulsively.

We picked a Sunday night, and I invited some friends.

I don’t remember much about the actual baptism. I don’t remember climbing up the stairs to the baptistry or the temperature of the water or professing my faith in God. I don’t remember being dunked or coming up out of the water. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time. I have a vague and fuzzy memory of seeing the first few rows of the church full of people from my vantage point in the baptistry.

I do remember that afterwards my mom braided my short, wet hair into two French braids that were tied together in the back, and I wore a lavender and navy striped polo shirtdress. We went down to the basement kitchen of the church where we were going to have cake, and my mom took my picture beside it. In the picture I’m smiling behind my pink wire glasses, a recent addition to my face. The cake said, “Congratulations, Ashley!” and it was store-bought, which was rare. There was a gold cross on it made entirely out of sugar. When it came off the cake, I was allowed to lick it and was disappointed that it didn’t taste very good.

I knew I had done something good that day. I remember announcing it to my class at school the next day.

Over the years, as I’ve watched people in my church get baptized and profess that Jesus is the Lord of their life, I’ve wanted to get rebaptized. Did I know what I was doing the first time? I really do mean it now. I don’t think I knew what I was getting into then.

But, as my parents have reminded me, this misses the point. Baptism is a one-time sacrament, a landmark moment. It’s not about whether you’ve got it all together at the time. It marks a step in a life of faithfulness.

There’s something especially holy about the moment where someone chooses to be baptized as a representation of their faith in front of their church family. Every time, something in me calls out, Me too. I choose this, too. 

Not just baptism, although I’d choose that again, too, but the body of believers who profess faith and remind me of mine. I’d choose the church again, the relationship with Jesus again, because it has given me life abundantly.

It really is a gift that Cinco de Mayo bookmarks today for me, that I have a readymade reminder that I’ve chosen to follow the God who loves me and calls me to life.