Before God entered my life I was incredibly insecure and so much of how I identified myself rested on what other people thought of me. I was completely performance driven and cared so deeply about impressing people…whether it was in academics, my appearance, who I hung out with, or even my faith. I wanted to be “that girl” who had it all together, and I wanted everyone to know that I had it all together. The reality was, however, that I had no idea what I was doing.
I found myself in how other people saw me. I worked so hard at crafting this perfect image to convince others (and really myself) that I was doing just fine. I had everything I needed in life…a tight family, the “right” friends, a high GPA, parents who would pretty much give me what I asked for, and on and on the list went. This is who I was. The girl who had it all together, who had her entire life figured out.
After many years of striving to live up to self-imposed expectations of myself, I became completely drained. When I entered college my freshman year I was so totally stressed out that I literally made myself sick. Only three months into college I was diagnosed with an intestinal disease that my doctor told me was almost surely induced by unhealthy amounts of stress in my life. I wasn’t naive, I knew that this stress and anxiety had always been a problem in my life, only now it was becoming more than I could manage. And suddenly I was losing control and I hated it. I needed to learn how to manage this stress. I needed to control it. I, I, I.
I had grown up being very involved in church. We weren’t just “Sunday morning Christians” either, we were extremely involved and my summers were filled with mission trips and volunteering. I thought I knew it all. I felt I had known Jesus my entire life, or at least I’d sure heard a lot about Him.
In my first weeks as a freshman, God began to really reveal Himself to me and it happened through relationships and people that I encountered. I met a girl in my dorm and from the very first minute I knew she had something that I deeply needed. The way that she talked about Jesus told me that she really knew Him, and I could see a freedom in her life that she experienced from not being in control.
I wanted this. God really hit me hard with this realization. I was so aware that I had such a deep need for Him and yet I was terrified of giving over control of my life to someone else. Could I trust Him like I could trust myself? Didn’t I know best? Wouldn’t it be safer if I just continued to do things my way? These were all questions that plagued my mind.
As I learned more about Christ and His beautiful intentions for my life, my heart began to soften and I became aware of how selfish I had been all these years. My entire life God had been waiting just outside my door and I had been too self-involved to let Him in. It’s as if I had the door opened just a crack so that I could have some of Him in my life, but not enough to have to surrender control.
Once I decided to swing the door wide open and really let Christ into my life for the first time, a wonderful thing happened. It wasn’t immediate, but over time I began to learn how to come to God with my fears and anxieties so that I would not have to deal with them on my own. I was learning how to free myself from the stress of having to maintain my image, and really my life.
When I realized for the first time that God had allowed His only Son to die so that He could have a real and close relationship with me…Kristina…things started to really change. Never had I known a love like this. A love that was not based on who I was or what I done. A love that I could not impress or deserve. A love so great and so deep that nothing could stop it. I was falling in love with Jesus for the first time in my life.
I, of course, still struggle with maintaining my image and presenting myself in the best possible way to people, but God is continuing to teach me to find my hope and my life in Him and not in how other people perceive me. I’m not perfect, and that is okay. I am right where God wants me to be, and that is perfection in His eyes. And that’s all that matters any more.