Hi. My Name is Debbie, and I am an overachiever.
This story, I’m sure, started when I was a child of about 8 years old. I have the certificate to prove it. It was then that I decided to follow Jesus and was baptized. But I don’t have any memory of it at all.
This is what I do remember. When I was in my high school years, I was an overachiever. My end goal in school was to finish in the top ten of my graduating class. I missed it by one. Overacheiver that I was, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to go to college on a gymnastics scholarship, too. That one was more of a dream, but I still put countless hours of work into this goal. I was competitive and fairly accomplished (though not enough for college gymnastics), and I thought I was happy, but it was completely conditional. In hindsight, my entire worth was wrapped up in whether or not I met my goals and pleased my parents, teachers, and coaches.
In my senior year of high school, God used a few things that were going on simultaneously to draw me back to Him.
My gymnastics life began to unravel. I was all of a sudden afraid to do even basic skills that I had been doing for several years. I walked in the gym one day and would not throw a skill, and the next day, it was another skill, and so on. I was more and more afraid and lost the courage to do nearly everything over just three weeks. This was huge. Gymnastics was my life, really. I loved it more than anything, and overachievers do not like failing. It was a huge knock to my worth, and I ended up quitting the sport because of it. God really used it to change where my eyes were set. (I believe now that God took gymnastics from me so that I could open my eyes again to Him.)
During a fall visitation night for the church that we were associated with but didn’t really attend, my family was invited to come and see a Billy Graham movie. I am not a new people and groups kind of person at all, but I just knew we needed to go to this movie, so I did what any kid who really wants something did. I begged my mom to take me. I don’t remember the movie, but I do remember the feeling of love and peace that was there in that church. I wanted to go back. I wanted some of what they had.
Lastly, my uncle was going through a divorce but had this peace, humility and kindness to him that I just knew had to be from God. It wasn’t natural to go through such hardships and be like this. He’d walk the neighborhood with me, drive me to school, bring me to church and more over the next year, and while he did, I saw that he wasn’t putting on a face. These character traits that I was seeing (the fruits of the spirit I now understand them to be) were the real thing, and I wanted them.
A few months after I started going back to church, at the age of 17, in my bedroom at my dad’s house, I was convicted that I needed to recommit my life to Jesus, to be intentional in following Him, and I did just that. I knew I was saved, in the club, if you will, but I had a lot to learn. Overachieving runs deep in my blood, and honestly, I will always battle my flesh on this issue. God never intended for me to gain my worth from the things I accomplished. The truth is, try as I may, I can’t earn it. I can’t be enough. But it doesn’t matter. My identity isn’t in what I accomplish. It is in a God who loved me, paid for me, claimed me as His own. I knew early on that it was by grace alone that I could be saved, and not by my own works, but it took many more years for me to grasp the depth of grace and love he has for me. Jesus didn’t save me because he felt sorry for me or because he had to do so, but because He really loves me, delights in me, cherishes me. God created people for fellowship with Himself, and when he saved me, he did it in order to restore that union with one of His people. That’s the Good News Gospel. God loves His people so much that He gave His son to wash away our sins, to bridge the gap, to make whole again everlasting fellowship between Himself and his people — one by one — and we can rest in that truth.