Baptizing Daddy's Little Girl

Eight years ago last month, a little girl came into this world. The third child (and third daughter) born into our family, Courtney was the perfect child. Fortunately for me, she wouldn’t let anyone else hold her if I was around. She has been my perfect little girl and I have been her favorite dad. She is always smiling and ready to give hugs to whoever is lucky enough to receive one.

As she has grown up, I’ve come to know her better than anyone else in this world except maybe her mother. I know what will happen when her older sister teases her and how she will respond to various situations. I also know what she loves to do, how to calm her fears, and what a gentle heart she has.
Over the last few months, I’ve thought a lot about what her turning 8 years old means. I used to wonder why we baptize children at age eight in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After having three of my children reach that age, however, I can see that it’s around that age that they begin to gain a good understanding of what is right and wrong.

I must admit that it has been a little hard for me to see her reach this point, as I know that my time as my little girl’s favorite dad is quickly disappearing. One day she won’t reach for my hand as I walk her to school, or even look back to make sure I’m there. I’ve experienced that with my older two already, although there are moments when I am lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their younger selves and I know they still care that I come to see how they are doing when I return home from work.

I had the opportunity to baptize and confirm Courtney, as I did my older children, and the opportunity was an incredible experience. As I stood next to that pure and innocent girl in the water, I remembered the charge of the Savior to become as a little child (Matthew 18:3-5). I was also reminded of a prophet’s counsel that “no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”  
Prior to Courtney’s baptism, my wife and I spent some time making sure that she understood the promises she would make with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at baptism. I also spent time reflecting on how well I have kept those same covenants. I have been far from perfect in many ways, but what gives me hope is that despite my many flaws, Courtney is somehow able to focus on the good in me. I believe it’s much the same as our Savior sees us, and that thought gives me a great deal of hope. I strongly believe that’s one of the reasons that Heavenly Father puts every one of his children in a family. A family relationship is uniquely able to help us feel the love of our Heavenly Father. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their family in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (Proclamation to the World on the FamilyThe experience of Courtney’s baptism will mean more because of the bond that we share.

How grateful I am for the knowledge that through the ordinances and promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is nothing that can separate me from my family, not even death. I will always be Courtney’s father and that is everything I could ever hope to be. That beautiful brown-eyed girl, along with her mother and siblings, are the joys of my life. Heaven would not be heaven without them, which is why salvation is a family affair.

– Joel Andrus

1 comment

  1. We are so glad we were able to share Courtney's special day. We are so thankful for our Texas kids. What a great family you are. Mom and Dad

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