Growing up, I defined myself by things I heard from other people, that I was a sweet, nice person, that I was smart and that I was musical. I really wanted other people to look at me as a successful person.
And I was successful in a lot of areas of my life, graduating 10th in my class and being first oboe in band. But every success was so temporary. It was like, "Good job. Now what?" I had to keep performing.
Despite the amount of success that I had, failures outweighed the successes. It made me want to isolate myself from other people, and I felt really insignificant. I wanted some kind of lasting joy in my life.
When I went to college, some girls from Campus Crusade for Christ approached me about joining a Bible study. If someone would have asked me, despite my doubts, I would have said I was a Christian. I thought being a Christian was being a good person because I had heard that in church growing up.
I had heard the words "gospel" and "good news," but I didn't know what they meant. I questioned the significance of life.
In the spring, we were in our Bible study. My leaders asked, "Do you know what the gospel is?" I tried to pretend that I knew what I was talking about. They saw through that and told us what it was, going through The Four Spiritual Laws booklet.
Before that, I had a hard time internalizing that all people are sinful. A lot of people say if you are a good person, God should let you into heaven. That spring was the first time I learned, that contrary to how the world works, God doesn't look at me for what I do and what I accomplish.
Ultimately we all fail. No matter how much I want to believe that I am a good person, I have made mistakes, and there are a lot of deep things within me that are not right or good. It doesn't matter if I am perfectly behaved but that I can have forgiveness and grace in Christ.
It is really a personal decision when you receive Christ. In my dorm room, I put my faith in Him. It gave me the hope that God loves me despite my imperfections. I am definitely still learning a lot about the depth of that love.
Christa Gould graduated from Ohio University in June 2008 with a degree in journalism and Spanish. During her 4 years at Ohio University, she played the euphonium in the marching band. Christa also plays the oboe. Beginning in fall 2008, she will serve as an affiliate staff member with Campus Crusade at her alma mater while also substitute teaching for a year.