I grew up in church. My parents made sure I was there every time the doors were open. I had a strong spiritual foundation; I am thankful for that. I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior when I was just 8-years-old.
I have always been the stereotypical “good girl.” Growing up, I lived a very prideful, legalistic lifestyle. My parents never imposed it upon me, but I was determined to be perfect in every aspect.
As a teenager, I didn’t understand how prideful I was. I was a “good girl” and darn proud of it. I made great grades, was involved in extra-curricular activities, involved in church, active in the community, teacher’s pet in several classes. I boasted in my own self-righteousness; I thought I was better than everyone else. Maybe I didn’t boast verbally, but I sure did stick my nose up in the air at some people.
It was the end of my junior year of high school that God opened my eyes and allowed me to see my sin for what it was; my sin hung Jesus on the cross as much as the next person. My pride, my puffed-out chest. I understand now that God calls me to be obedient to His Word, but my legalistic, perfectionist lifestyle made me think I was better than everyone else. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” When I truly began to understand this verse, my “good girl” persona came shattering down. I began to understand what a great sinner I am and what a great Savior I serve. I began to understand the meaning of grace.
Why am I sharing this? Many people know that I recently applied to start grad school in the fall. Part of the application process was writing about my spiritual journey—this was just a small piece of mine. I’ve always struggled with the desire to be perfect. It’s an ongoing battle to let go of that desire. When I try to be perfect, pride wells up in me. I’m sharing this because it’s real and honest, and because maybe I’m not alone in this struggle. Maybe you’re like me.
I’m often reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:17; it’s actually my favorite verse in Scripture. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” Because of Christ, I am clean and new. I understand now God isn’t some evil taskmaster making sure I complete everything on my spiritual checklist. I know I don’t have to be perfect—because Jesus is. If I mess up, God forgives me because of what Jesus did. When I go through trials, I know Jesus is my rock.
There is so much freedom in the cross.