While I was growing up, my family didn’t have extra money. My little-girl brain translated our situation into a need to help my family and prove my value by accomplishments. My ambitious drive showed up most noticeably in my childhood sport as a competitive gymnast. My dad worked two jobs to pay for all of my practices and competitions, so I always felt internal pressure to make him proud. In other areas I was also an overachiever. I even wrote a paper in kindergarten about wanting to be valedictorian of my high school so I could get a scholarship for college!
While I am naturally bent towards achieving, my personality and desire to make my parents proud combined to produce a childhood built on striving.
While I was growing up, my family never went to church, so I had very little perspective on a relationship with God. But when I was in eighth grade, after we moved to a new city, my mom surprisingly suggested we visit a church to meet people and get connected. For the first time, I heard that Jesus died for my sins and rose again. This gospel message came in the same season my Granny passed away from cancer.
For the first time in my life, I was forced to consider what all the striving in life meant in the end? What truly was the purpose of achieving if life was so fleeting? The Lord used my grief to start loosening knots in my heart tightly wound around the idea of establishing value through accomplishments. I realized my great need for a Savior who secured for me what I could not: forgiveness of sin, right standing with God and undisputed value I didn’t have to achieve.
As I began walking with the Lord, the burdens of life and my intense internal achievement motor began to be rewired. I dove into a deep and abiding relationship with Christ and plugged into church and student ministry throughout high school. A weight had finally been lifted. The overachieving theme in my life was confronted by the reality of Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom Christ has set you free.” This idea of living life free from striving for approval and success was so refreshing! I leaned into what Christ’s death and resurrection meant for me as a believer. Jesus lived the perfect life I could not, died the sinner’s death I deserved, and conquered sin through his resurrection. Believing these truths brings freedom to every striving heart.
After being a Christian for almost two decades, I can still fall into the temptation to strive for achievement – to want the approval of man or even God. That little girl who wanted to make something of herself can reappear, yet I am now assured by the truth of Colossians 2:10: “You have been given fullness in Christ.” Regardless of my circumstances or achievements, I can find an abiding love and freedom in Christ – not because of anything I have accomplished, but all because of who Christ is and what He has done to bring eternal salvation through His abundant grace. If you are like me in the tendency to strive for achievement in its various forms, I invite you into the freedom only Christ can give.
All for God’s glory – Kaitlyn Wurzbach