When my son was baptized, he was so excited. His little friend, also on the Autism Spectrum, watched with bright eyes as he saw his friend braving the water. For both these boys getting water on their faces was a huge deal. Both of them dreaded getting wet. But for a baptism, they were willing to suffer the discomfort. They were both so brave. It was a sweet moment to stand in church and watch my son make his first covenants with God. Little did I know that this victory would be the beginning of new challenges for us.
The baptismal covenant
When we are baptized we covenant to take the Lord’s name upon us. In Mosiah 10: 8-10 we read:
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
When we are baptized we make a two-way promise with God. He guarantees us blessings in exchange for keeping our promises to Him.
A Two way Promise
When we are baptized we promise:
- To bear one another’s burdens.
- To mourn with those that mourn
- To comfort those who need our comfort.
- To stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that we may be in even until death.
- And we promise to serve Him and keep His commandments.
- God will pour out his Spirit abundantly on us.
- He will redeem us from our sins.
- We will be among those in the first resurrection- a place reserved for the most righteous of God’s children.
- He will give us Eternal Life- Life living with God and Jesus Christ in the Celestial Kingdom forever.
There are no greater possible gifts in all eternity than those promised to us for keeping our baptismal covenants. It’s a big deal that we keep them and renew them often, by taking the Sacrament. When we take the Sacrament we are cleansed of our sins once more. In fact, the Sacrament is the greatest reason for church. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
When Super Senses Get in the Way
So when, soon after my son’s baptism, he began refusing to go to church I was very worried. He had just made big promises! However, a church can be a noisy, difficult experience for a young boy with super senses. Primary is particularly stressful. A room full of children, all wiggling and giggling, is only made harder by a loud piano and singing.
After several weeks of refusal, I was at my wit’s end. I finally made a deal with my son that we had to attend Sacrament meeting. It isn’t optional because we have made promises. But the rest of church, for now, is on hold. I miss the fellowship of the saints. But I haven’t given up. We are slowly trying to increase his tolerance, but I doubt we will ever get him to enjoy Primary.
I wish things were easier for these little souls. They are so sweet, so talented in many ways. But their super senses make things painful that were such a part of my youth. In the meantime, I am so grateful for the blessings promised in our baptismal covenants. Because of them, I know that what little church we can handle will eventually yield eternal rewards. We just need to keep our covenants.
Abby is a one of those women who accidentally finds herself on the PTA board. She loves to be involved, and nothing matters more to her than her family and her faith. She comes from a family with many autistic members. And now she gets to see how her mother felt raising an autistic son. As she wades into this new world, she invites us to join her. Hopefully, we will all learn something new along the way. If you or a family member have autism yourself, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. It's just an adjustment, and you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will learn this new language.