Last month I had 2 birthdays to celebrate. Not only my mortal birthday on the 28th (gifts and cash are still welcome), but also my spiritual birth. Twenty years ago on December 27th, I was baptized. I had wanted to get baptized on my birthday, but that year the 28th fell on a Monday--which is sacred second to Sundays. So, I had to get baptized on a Sunday after church.
I had taken the missionary discussions while at BYU. I was a golden for those sisters. I referred myself and when they first came to my door, I asked them what I needed to do to get baptized. The discussions felt like a formality. I had a testimony, lived the Word of Wisdom (except for tea and coffee--didn't know they were a no-no), was a moral, chaste girl and just waiting for the water to make it official. The missionaries wanted me to get baptized while at BYU, but I wanted to wait for the Christmas break to get baptized at home so my mom could be there.
I asked our home teacher (obviously the home teacher at my home, not BYU) to baptize me. He had a cold at the time as did I. I remember that I got in the cold water (do they do that on purpose???) and when Charles dunked me the first time, I came out of the water and snorted--loudly. Not a lady-like snort, but more like a got-a-bunch-of-phlegm type of snort. So embarrassing. Of course, the hem of my baptismal gown was out of the water, so Charles had to shove me under again. This time I was completely immersed and no embarrassing noises.
Sadly, I don't remember anything of the confirmation other than the command to receive the Holy Ghost. I do remember my feelings. It felt so right as if there were someone there with their hands on my head (other than the obvious ones) giving me encouragement. I felt an actual warmth much like you feel on a sunny day. Honestly, at the time I didn't think it more than just feelings of happiness. It wasn't until years later after I had experience with the Holy Ghost that I recognized what that was.
People have asked me what it was like to live "without" the Holy Ghost. And I've replied that I don't know. I've had a testimony for so long that I have felt His influence in my life. I can say that the physical commitment of baptism has allowed me to focus and re-commit to living the Gospel during those times when I felt spiritually weak. I truly don't know where my life would be now had I not been baptized. I think I would still believe in God and still live a righteous life. But, I believe that I have a happier life, that I have a deeper understanding, that I have better tools to deal with trials and disappointments, that I have a more solid foundation to build upon. I don't think that I have more than others, in or out of my faith, but that I have a fuller life because of my decision to be baptized.