Growing up in a Christian household, I never had a lightning bolt moment of “this is it – I’m becoming a Christian – now is the moment”. It’s been a long and messy process of recognising and understanding what the gospel is. Even though I was blessed as a child with a great church and wise, loving friends, I’ve made huge mistakes as I try to walk with Jesus.
Personally I’ve always placed far too much of my identity in academic work, in sport and what other people think of me. Perfectionism: on the outside, maybe it did look nice to flit off to Oxford University, boyfriend in tow – but my misplaced self-esteem crumbled as the workload hit me, and my non-Christian boyfriend was not a godly influence.
I was trying to reconcile the irreconcilable – faith in Christ’s saving love and a lifestyle that did not reflect that belief. It just made me a hypocrite, and caused pain to lots of the people closest to me. The astounding thing is, that even though I wasn’t in step with Christ, he was totally in step with me. He wouldn’t give up on my case... God placed a wonderful Christian housemate in my life. He gave me a solid church family at university that is an absolute rock. He provided the opportunity to take part in a social justice group called Just Love, and the Christian Union, and so many Christian friends who delight in his presence. How unimaginably generous Christ is to me, a sinner who shunned his good plans. He has taken my broken life and carefully reworked it in ways I could never imagine.
Of course there are still struggles, new temptations, I’m not God’s finished product! But the overwhelming evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus himself, as the ‘firstborn from among the dead’ (Colossians), means that I have a future hope and that I am part of His family. With that hope set before me, I can truly say that the Christian life is the good life.