Yes, I might be the one seeking out the testimonies and pushing cheerleaders to be more transparent and open with their stories each week. So this post should have been easy for me. Yet, I’ve had to muster up a lot of courage and rewritten this article 100 times now due to my perfectionistic tendencies. Finally though (a month after I got baptized), I’ll share the story. There’s a lot of context behind my decision to finally take the plunge, and you can find some of it here in my bio. Track along for more details and watch my video from my baptism below, as I try to put into words the remarkable events that led up to my super special St. Patty’s Day 2013.
So that word…. Saved. Most Christian’s live by it and other people cringe when they hear it. Growing up Catholic, in a broken and chaotic home, I really only heard that word when Mandy Moore made it a bad movie about it and from my friends who took me to their church retreats.
As I started to opened my ears and heart, I began to investigate this word just after college. My understanding of ‘saved’ didn’t happen overnight, but God slowly melted my heart to an understanding that being saved was just a term girls in my small group and others used to rejoice in and explain their salvation. (Yes, this is a very loose interpretation, but it’s mine.)
I never had an epiphany where I walked up to an altar and had evil spirits shake their way out of me to get “saved” (truthfully this is what I pictured in my head growing up), but instead I had trials piled on trials before I finally surrendered to the church for relief. My family saw abuse, affairs and financial ruin all masked with our fake smiles and laughter. I believed in God, but thought it was only my good works that would get me into Heaven. As a result, I was very well behaved and rarely showed anything but a smile to those surrounding me. I thought if I could do enough good and show more than enough love, God would remove us from our nightmare of a house. He didn’t though, and I ran to Atlanta after college, trying again to escape and mask my problems. I attempted to bury my problems in things I thought I could perfect on my own: dance and work. Years later, I look back and realize God used the trails and waited for me to release control in order to draw closer to me.
After years of completely believing in God, but never hearing the words true relationship with Jesus spoken in my church, I walked into North Point and have never been the same. I’ll admit at first, I felt very uncomfortable at any church, especially a mega church. I didn’t like Andy Stanley when I first started attending North Point Community Church. I thought his accent was crazy, he talked too fast and those people taking notes around me in the auditorium? Yup, thought they were crazy too.
I kept going back, feeling an ache in my heart. Hearing announcements about a GroupLink gathering coming up at church (where bible studies are basically formed by going through a mini speed dating situation), I decided to go. What I found four years ago when I walked completely alone into the Grouplink gathering was a foundation of love and support that I unknowingly would bring to my future cheer teams. That night was the beginning of my hunger for the Word- through counseling, small group gatherings, coworkers and friendships that stemmed from coaches on my college and pro cheer teams, I discovered His great love. A love so deep that words can’t describe how grateful I am for all of my past (and current.. and future…) pain. I am no longer consumed with pretending everything is okay. My completeness isn’t through the perfection achieved in dance or work that I was seeking before I started at North Point. Through Him I may achieve some success, but if that’s the case, it would only be to make His name known. Jesus I now my center, and I don’t want to miss Him drawing me closer. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
God has equipped me with teammates, family and a strong small group that will keep me on track through trails ahead. I’m now addicted to reading my Kelly green bible and I scribble more notes every Sunday in church than the ‘crazies’ I saw when I first walked into North Point Church four years ago. Taking the plunge that Sunday morning doesn’t mean I am all knowing of the Bible or Christianity, it’s far from that. But being baptized has helped place a giant stamp on the time period when I realized “what is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 19:2). By sharing my baptism, our testimonies and whatever else God gifts to us as professional cheerleaders, I hope that everyone will be as anxious to “go to the street corners and invite anyone you find” (Matthew 23:23) because we can be the light for people who might be as scared as I was about that word… saved.
Watch my baptism video: Kiley’s Baptism.
If you are interested in sharing your story with Preserve The Light, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All views expressed on these pages are owned by the authors and are not of their cheer/dance organizations. Cheers!