At eight years old you are accountable for your sins. At eight years old you are eligible to take name of Jesus Christ upon you. At eight years old you are learning your two times tables.
I think I was a mature little kid. With that maturity, when I was eight years old I knew enough to know I did not know nearly enough to get baptized. I begged my parents to let me wait until I was the wizened old age of ten to get baptized. I even asked the bishop about it. I argued if I waited until I was ten, I would take the covenant more seriously and really understand what I was committing to. They argued that if I was thinking about these things, I was already taking it seriously enough.
I can't remember if I was just trying to be difficult/unique or if I really felt unprepared, but I do remember feeling like I, as a good girl who wanted to please my parents, did not have a choice. Baptism was a rite of passage, something you do as a Mormon eight-year-old child.
I received my temple endowment at 20 years old, a week before I got married. I didn't get my endowment because I felt like it was the right time and I was prepared to receive my endowment. I made those commitments because I wanted to get married. I felt sick to my stomach on my endowment day. I knew the seriousness of the commitments I was about the make, and I just didn't know if I was ready for it. But I wanted to marry the love of my life in the temple (that's the YW goal), so I did it, ready or not.
Don't get me wrong; I am glad I got baptized, I am glad I received my temple endowment, and I am glad I was sealed to my husband for eternity. Maybe I am revealing a serious character flaw here. Maybe I should have stood firmer on my ground as a precocious eight-year-old until I felt fully prepared. Maybe I should have delayed marriage as a gooey-eyed love-struck twenty-year-old until I felt really ready. But I didn't. And I know many other people didn't either.
So why do we assign these enormous commitments and covenants to arbitrary points in our life?
Eight-years-old is the MINIMUM age to get baptized, not the mandatory age. Frankly, I'm not sure if I am going to allow my child be baptized on their eighth birthday. I want it to my child's affirmative decision, not merely a rite of passage associated with white dresses and birthday cakes with eight candles. Fortunately I have seven more years to figure this out before my baby girl reaches the magic eight.
Similarly, I want to encourage my children to prepare to receive their endowment on their own terms--not just when they are going on a mission (although this is coming earlier these days) or getting married. Again, how I am going to do this, exactly, is yet to be determined.
When did you get baptized/take other covenants? Did you feel prepared? Did you feel pressured by the circumstances? How are you handling this with your own children?
Julia is wife to one, mom to one, and friend to all. If pho were against the word of wisdom, Julia would have some tough decisions to make.
Image credit: arrtx1 (used with permission).