The Gospel showed me that I was a sinner, imperfect and incapable of reaching my perfect Creator. But out of His great love, God rescued me by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to sacrifice His perfection and bear my sin on the Cross where He died.
Three words to describe my life before Christ: fearful, insecure, people-pleaser.
In adolescence, these words proved true in the way I related to others. I desired to be everything to everyone—perfect for my parents, beautiful for boys, loyal and fun for my friends and the favorite of my teachers. What I was blind to then was a deeply rooted fear of disappointing others. I longed to change things about myself so people would pay more attention to me. I needed the approval of others in order to feel good about myself and was devastated when I made mistakes that displeased anyone. It is clear to me now how those habits enslaved me to other people’s words, opinions and actions as the sources of my happiness and purpose. To put it as Paul did: “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” (Galatians 4:8) The created, rather than the Creator, was my king. I figured God existed but I was under the impression that He could not relate to me and certainly could not make me feel loved in the ways for which my soul longed. Church taught me about the person of Jesus Christ but I didn’t understand that He had anything to do with me personally.
In high school, I began attending Young Life events, where the Good News of Jesus Christ was shared at every meeting. But I still cared more about the applause I received from others for consistently attending and occasionally bringing new friends than I cared about the love of Christ. This only fed my idols of approval and acceptance. As a freshman, I attended Young Life’s summer camp amongst the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I heard the gospel message of Jesus Christ, as I had many times before, but this time it took root in my heart. I learned that sin includes, but is much more than, drugs, sex and bad words. The Gospel showed me that I was a sinner, imperfect and incapable of reaching my perfect Creator. But out of His great love, God rescued me by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to sacrifice His perfection and bear my sin on the Cross where He died. By the grace of God, I finally understood the life-altering love of my Heavenly Father and believed that I was a new creation because of Christ’s perfect substitution on my behalf. I understood that God’s acceptance of me was not based on anything I did or did not do, but on what Christ had already done for me. I felt whole and deeply loved.
The remainder of high school consisted of times of heartfelt worship of the Lord and times of disappointing worship of myself. Much like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, I went to college to run away from people that were encouraging my faith and instead pursued the acceptance of peers who diminished my faith. Even as I tried to keep God at arm’s length, I knew in my heart that the Lord was still near and that He desired more for me. A series of circumstances left me in a period of brokenness where I was able to see my need for change and for God’s redeeming grace. Luke describes the return of the prodigal son: “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion on him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) The Lord also sought me and pulled me out of the pit. He restored relationships with my family and Christian friends, quickly provided Christian community through Young Life and a local church body and laid on my heart a passion that I would have deemed impossible: sharing the gospel to high school students through Young Life’s ministry. I saw my life through a new lens, one where God is active, sovereign and full of immense grace.
Human approval, fear, insecurity and pride remain as struggles in my life today and likely will until I die. These pangs of human nature continue with each passing day, however, I know that the cross of Christ is as powerful now as it always has been. Through Jesus’ resurrection I know that death is conquered and the wrath of God is satisfied forever. My security and affirmation is found in Christ alone. I am reminded daily that “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) One day I will worship Jesus face-to-face, no longer struggling with my source of love and acceptance. Repentance, joy and worship will now and forever be the rhythm of my days.
Author: Becca Borgert
Photographer: Hilary Tebo