I was blessed to have grown up going to church, where I learned about God, went to Sunday school, went on mission trips, everything. Although I believed in God, it was mostly because I just assumed everyone did and that it was normal, so I never really questioned it. I thought my life was as close as possible to “normal” – loving parents who loved each other, both had good jobs, both were successful and respected, we had a house, everything we could ever want or need. My sisters and I were also known for being “good” kids – we were talented, athletic, smart, respectful, well liked, and from a young age involved in all kinds of activities. We’ve definitely been blessed with many talents and abilities, and I found that often when I performed well in any area, people were pleased with me. I loved getting the praise of others, whether it was for my abilities, accomplishments, or even for my personality, and I thrived off compliments and recognizing when I had risen above others. As I grew up, I lived for being my best, but most of the time that meant it had to be pleasing to others, and it also had to measure up to my standards of perfection. There were many times when I did find satisfaction in all these things, but for each moment of fulfillment there was multiple more times of feeling insignificant, empty, hopeless, and just frustrated when I couldn’t do or be “enough”. In middle school I went to bible camp for the first time, and it was here my eyes were opened to the reality of God. I began to wonder why and if I really did believe in His existence, what that meant, what life meant, and what came after life. Did heaven exist? Would I go there? What if I didn’t? All I knew was that I had tasted that life with God was just different and that I desired it more than anything, but I didn’t know how to achieve it. So like everything else in my life, I searched and strove to live “the perfect Christian life”. After several exhausting years of searching and striving, dealing with countless doubts and often feeling hopeless, someone explained the Gospel to me. I had grown up hearing about Jesus my whole life and what He had done, but for the first time ever, my freshman year of college, it was suddenly so clear. Christ died to cover my sins because I could never redeem myself through anything I did. Not only am I guaranteed to spend eternity with Him in heaven, but He has loved and adored me my entire life, long before I was even born, without me even having to DO or earn anything – I didn’t need to perform anything, be perfect, be the nicest person, be the smartest, be the best, in fact I could be the opposite, and He still delighted in me because of who He is and His love for me. A verse I have clung to since then: 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -God’s grace is big enough for me even in my greatest shortcomings.