I was baptized at the age of 8, like most kids in active member families. Though I donâ€™t have a lot of memories from that young age, I am very happy to report I remember my baptism quite well.
I turned 8 on 2 July 1980. I was happy I wouldnâ€™t have to wait long before I could get baptized â€“ the stake baptism for that month was 5 July. For my 8th birthday, from my parents I got my own set of scriptures. For my birthday/baptism, from my ward/Primary I got a Book of Mormon (do you remember those medium blue ones with the gold angel Moroni on the cover? That was the one I got) and a picture of Jesus, which still hangs the wall of my bedroom at my parentsâ€™ house.
Instead of an individual baptism, my stake did a monthly baptism for all the kids who turned 8 in the past month. We got to the stake center and picked out our white clothes. I dressed in a thing that was a one piece shorts/dress outfit. It had shorts along with a skirt above my knees. Iâ€™ve never seen such a baptism outfit since. My dad baptized me, and he was dressed in one of those normal one-piece white jumpsuits.
After we dressed, we headed to the chapel for the talks. The baptizers and baptizees sat on the front row, with everyone else behind us. My mom, sister, and Aunt Pauline were there. Other than the seating arrangements, I remember none of this part. I imagine the talks were the generic ones on baptism and confirmation themes, but who knows.
I remember the actual baptism well. My father had practiced with me at home so I knew how to hold my hands and what would happen. He had also taught me that I would have to go completely under or it would have to be repeated. We entered the font, and I remember the water was warm. I was really loving the whole experience and decided that doing it once wasnâ€™t enough. I decided to try to leave a limb or digit or something above the water so I could do it again. We stood in the water how we practiced. He said the prayer and I went under the water. Unfortunately, my father was good, and he got me all the way under the first time. I donâ€™t think he even knew Iâ€™d tried to defeat his dipping. Oh well.
Afterwards we walked out to the parking lot to leave. My aunt gave me a cute little red purse for my birthday/baptism. She left and I told my mom I felt weird inside. This feeling I remember well. I had been happy and enjoyed he whole experience (hence the desire to, yay, do it again!), but this feeling was different. If someone has asked if it was a good weird or bad weird, I would have definitely gone with good weird, but no one asked, so I never got beyond â€œweirdâ€ in my definition. My mom told me that was the Holy Ghost.
Sometimes I fall back on the memory of that feeling at that time when I have various frustrations with the gospel and canâ€™t seem to feel the Spirit. I remember that feeling that was definitely more than just a warm, fuzzy, happy whatever. It was new and distinct and not my imagination. There are other experiences with the Spirit that I fall back on during those times, but that first experience, though it was so long ago and I was so young, remains strongly in my memory.