Live By Grace, Not Perfection
Hello there! My name is Jordyn Woodward. I graduated from OBU in December of 2016 with a BBA in Social Entrepreneurship and a minor in Christian Ministry. I now work on campus as an admissions counselor! When I think back on my years at OBU, I remember how much growing the Lord did in me throughout those four short years. While I learned many lessons during that time, the most formative one for me was that God does not require perfection.
Growing up, I was your typical Type-A student. I studied rigorously for any test, no matter how easy, created check-list after check-list of homework to be done and ways to get ahead, and insisted on making a 100% on every assignment. This standard of perfection eventually merged into all aspects of my life and set an unhealthy precedence for my college years. As you can imagine, this left me a stressed out, anxiety-ridden train wreck. If I did not make the grade or meet the mark I had set for myself, I felt guilty and ashamed. I was my own worst critic. Thankfully, during my Junior year of college, the Lord decided to teach me an important lesson that came through none other than Dr. Emerson.
It was the second semester of my Junior year and I took Dr. Emerson’s Biblical Hermeneutics J-term class. I was also working full time and planning a wedding, so I am not sure why I thought I could handle the work load of a J-Term class at this time. Long story short, I wasn’t juggling life or school very well, which meant I wasn’t meeting my standard of perfect A’s and was staring my first B in the face. I went to Dr. Emerson stressed out, overwhelmed and honestly, exhausted. He looked at me with such sincerity and said the harsh truth that I needed to hear: “You have made grades an idol.” Ouch. This reality hit me hard. Not only had I made grades an idol, but the unhealthy standard of perfection that I held for myself had blinded me from the freedom that can only be found in God’s grace. Thus began a growing season in my relationship with the Lord.
I am not sure if Dr. Emerson would even remember this conversation now, but it is something that I have never forgotten. As I examined my life, I realized that the perfection I strived for was unattainable and useless. Please don’t get me wrong, it is great to work hard and set high standards for yourself, but at the end of the day, there is nothing that you can do and no standard you could meet to earn Christ’s love. It is only through Christ’s own perfection and sacrifice that we now receive His grace. I still have the tendency to want to strive for perfection. I still often overcommit myself and go all-in on projects or jobs that I have. I am still learning the art of balance, but now, I find comfort in knowing that Christ does not require perfection from me.
This freedom is what I want other OBU students to experience. In college, especially, it is easy to feel defined by your grades, outfits, friend groups, career choice, etc. Learn a lesson from a stressed-out girl in Hermeneutics class, those things don’t define you. God’s grace, love and mercy defines His people. So, live by that grace. Find comfort in that grace. Find freedom in that grace. And if you need to hear those words directly from Dr. Emerson as I did, I’m sure he’d be happy to tell you himself!