I love baptisms. Every single one gives me goose bumps and watery eyes. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a child or for an adult convert, it’s absolutely exciting. The Spirit is there, hearts are knit together, and a wonderful step is taken.
Last time I attended one priesthood leaders carefully slid open the doors to the font, revealing the pool of warm water reflected in the angled mirror above. It shimmered, as it always does, the palest shade of turquoise.
I watched as droplets from the faucet quietly fell onto the surface, creating ripples that bobbed gently out from their source. For several seconds we all watched in silence, this beautiful metaphor before us. How fitting it was: A child of God was obeying the commandment to be baptized, and entering at that vital gate. From this point forward, there would be no telling the impact this one decision will have, the friends who will be influenced, the lives that will be touched and changed, and the generations of families who might come unto Christ because of this one person’s choice.
Slowly the individual, white-clad and beaming, came down the steps into the water, where welcome arms took her carefully to the center. Even larger rings spread across the font, now, but our attention turned to the baptism itself. Children clustered around the glass to watch.
Then, as she stepped out again, gentle waves rolled across the surface as calm and certain as faint tides. Back and forth the water swayed, every molecule impacted by the occasion. Just as she will never be the same, nor will all the lives swirling around her. Those attending could feel a tingle in the air, and those she will meet for the rest of her life will be brushing shoulders with someone who has followed the Savior, and entered the waters of baptism. By wearing his name, she will create a ripple effect that can reach across time and space, and can touch hearts she will never even know.
We experience this same phenomenon every day. Unless we’re boat captains, we can’t see swells in water as we go to work, attend school, or meet members of our community. But our influence is just as strong. By choosing the mood and disposition we bring with us, we convey caring or thoughtlessness, love or disregard. We elicit curiosity about our faith, or cast it in a negative light. Every smile, every glance, creates ripples.
Just as it’s impossible to step into water without disturbing the surface and sending forth a series of rings, so it is impossible to live in this world and not create an impression of some kind. It makes me pause, and consider the power in gentle words, small acts of kindness, even taking time to listen. We should never underestimate the difference we can make the lives of those around us. And always remember: Just because it’s invisible to the eye, doesn’t mean our impact isn’t carried, one ripple at a time, beyond the limits of time and space.
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Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.