All in all, I though I was a kid with some charm. Apparently, I’ve always had eyes that appealed to other people. There was a lady in Mexico who ran the arcade who always offered to trade my eyes out for hers because she thought mine were so beautiful. Now, this was a horror scenario for me. I actually imagined that she would somehow be taking my eyes out from my head and hers out and somehow trading them. We didn’t have too much money so I didn’t get to go the arcade very often and one time I really wanted to play games. So, I went down to the arcade and offered her my eyes willing to trade them for a couple of hours of Pacman. She smiled and said she was too busy today to trade but gave me tokens anyway…
Women were also always telling me about how much they liked my eyelashes. I’ve always had big girly eyelashes to go with my eyes. But when you’re a boy and women keep telling you how much they like your eyes, it’s not a positive thing. So one day, when my second grade teacher Sonya told me I had great eyes and eyelashes, I did what any reasonable boy who’d had enough would do: I took out my scissors and cut them off. My teacher walked in as I was doing it, and was very worried about me having sharp objects near my eyes. For some reason, this got me taken to the principal’s office! The principal was also a woman. Being in second grade, I couldn’t quite tell why they were both reprimanding about scissors, telling me that beautiful eyelashes were a gift, and yet seemed to be continuously fighting an urge to laugh. I didn’t get the joke.
Anyway, I don’t know if these eyes that other people have obsessed for so long are what have always given me such a clear sense of vision. I’ve always been goal oriented. I’m about what’s next. It’s the next goal, the next accomplishment. Even projects that have taken me huge amount of times and effort are forgotten moments after they’re done for whatever must next come my way.
The first long term goal I had was getting baptized. Some kids dream of being firemen, teachers, President, and any manner of things. Well, I wanted to be a preacher. But in order to get to the pastoral and ministerial position, there were going to be a few things I needed to accomplish this. Now since I decided this at six years of age, I recognized that marrying a piano playing, singing teacher/nurse type wife would be a while away so I let that one slip to the back burner. But I did start prodigiously reading the Bible and all things thelogical. Then of course I kept hearing about this baptism bit. So I knew I needed to get baptized. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always about efficiency so I started asking around what the earliest appropriate age for baptism was. Twelve was kind of the standard answer from Adventists but there was some variety. The earliest age anyone would tell me was 10.
Even then I had no capacity for simply accepting the common wisdom, so since I had heard 10, I was determined to get baptized before then. I prayed and prayed to God that He would grant me early baptism. Yet even before I knew the proposition, I knew that it was always best to both trust in God and lock your car. So, being part of a small church I started doing my best to charm my parents and the pastor into letting me get baptized as soon as possible. At about age 9, I finally started making some headway with them and this was an intense relief since I was running out of time.
(This has been my challenge with religion since I can remember. I wanted to do what was required and expected. I wanted to do it out of complete and sincere religious thought but I also wanted to do it in a way that continued to reinforce all that I was and was quickly becoming. I wanted to get baptized but I wanted to also do it “better” than average. This attribute has been my greatest strength and greatest weakness).
They finally agreed. And in May of 1990, almost 3 full months before my 10th birthday, I was to be baptized and join the Lord and church in an official ceremony before all. I was ecstatic and was sure God was pleased with me. That day at church, along with several other candidates, we recited our baptismal vows and I’ve never been convinced I was making that solid of a commitment before or since. It was a hot desert day in Odessa TX and I believed the sun was God smiling on us.
The ceremony was on a Saturday night. I stepped outside of the church and felt a single drop of rain land on my face and I looked up right before a huge storm started pouring. Perhaps it was silly but I was sure that this was God’s displeasure on my getting baptized too early. It was so worrisome for me that I almost backed out but my pride kept me there.
I almost told pastor Gonzales (pastor Gonzales was a great pastor and a great man. He walked on water to me. He never seemed to do anything wrong. I wanted so much to be like him. From a very early age, I avoided doing anything that looked remotely evil and when I did, I could never admit it. Not even to myself. So I didn’t tell him about my second thoughts, afraid that He or anyone else would question my loyalty to God. Oddly enough, it would have been out of loyalty to the fear of God that I would have backed out but even then I realized that the reality of people is hard to balance against our ideas of God.
I didn’t feel as excited after my baptism as I thought I would. I was happy but it was tempered. Although within a few hours I’d accepted it as just weather, the single drop of rain from the sky produced at least one from me.