My life, since I was about 15, was all about proving I was good enough, that I was successful, and important. I was committed to being included in the popular crowd, achieving good academic standing, and getting “ahead” in my future plans by taking a full-load of college credits during my Junior and Senior year of High School.
I had always gone to church so thought I knew enough about God and considered myself a “good” Christian. I had built up a good reputation for myself and my teachers, friends, and their families all liked me and thought I was a good kid. I was pretty confident that I had everything taken care of and that God was happy with the way my life was going. My entire self-worth and identity was wrapped up in what people thought of me and I thought all that God cared about was how well I was living the Christian life.
My second year at my University, this all came crashing down when I became very overwhelmed with the pressures and demands of college that seemed to be in competition with what I thought God wanted. I realied that I had become like a chameleon, trying to blend in with my surroundings and taking on the "colors" of my surroundings by imitating the behaviors of my friends, chasing after relationships, and having carefree fun, but also trying to make God happy by going to church and not making "too bad" of decisions. It was exhausting and I grew tired of trying to gain the approval of my friends but then feeling like God must not love me anymore because I wasn't performing like I thought He wanted me to anymore. I felt lost, like a failure, and like I had no real identity.
One Tuesday night, I was studying at home with my best friend. She asked me how I was doing, I gave some half-hearted response, saying that I was fine, but she knew that wasn't the truth. She looked sad and she told me that she barely recognized me anymore and felt like she didn't know me. In that moment, I knew that living my life for the approval of others wasn't working but only making me feel more empty.
I remember reading Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I realized that God had sent his son, Jesus to earth to live the perfect, sinless life that I could not. That, without him, I could do nothing of real and lasting significance. God exchanged Jesus’ spotless identity for my own imperfect one, and gave me eternal life with him and an identity as a child of God. Everything I could never achieve or earn, he simply gifted to me, undeserved and without cost.
I also learned that every person has the opportunity to receive this gift from God by admitting our need for him, and asking Jesus to be King of our life. My life was changed by receiving the grace and gift of a personal relationship with God and now I live with the assurance that he loves me exactly the way I am and that ultimately what he wants from me is my heart, not my good works. I know that I despite my imperfections, God delights in me.