I grew up in a Christian home with eleven siblings. We attended church regularly, competed constantly, and were all required to get jobs at a young age to begin to learn the importance of hard work. As I grew older, I immersed myself in just about any activity that I believed would validate my self worth. Motivated by the need of approval, I worked hard to become good at everything I could; I played sports, did well in the classroom, played the piano, participated in art competitions, and competed in memory verse trivia at church. I attempted to excel in just about every aspect of life that I could, because I desired to be accepted by my family and friends. The truth is, however, most of my relationships existed in order to make me feel better about myself.
Throughout my youth, high school, and even college, however, God would not let me go. While I was saved at a young age, I would still slip into sin; yet, He was faithful to pull me out. I may have been falsely motivated at times to repentance, but He was not finished with me. God used a series of events to pull me into a deeper love for him. God revealed a lot of darkness in my heart, and I began to realize how much of the Older Brother from Luke 15 I had become; I realized, that in a way, I believed I was entitled to a reward for my faith. Romans 3:23 teaches that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." God opened my eyes to realize how gracious He is to forgive me because of the sacrifice of our savior. My attempts to earn His love fall short, yet His unconditional love for me was and still is completely enough.