In New Zealand, Emma had a burden of guilt and a masking smile

Photo courtesy Emma Puloka.

Life can be messy. Slowly you learn to hide that mess inside where no one else can see. Just you. And don’t forget to smile, they’re watching.

That was how I thought for a long time, even as a Christian.

I put my trust in Jesus to save me back in 2003. Despite this, I hid the lust, emotional chaos, pride and fear that were so rooted in me. I tried to balance my dark thought life with a super bright outward life.

I was a top student, head girl prefect, involved in Christian clubs, in sports, the lot. I was always trying to make sure I had the approval from others that I feared I didn’t really have from God.

I had a genuine relationship with God but there were areas of my mind that I thought He couldn’t handle. So I walked around with a burden of guilt…and a masking smile.

In 2008, I heard more about what this undeserved gift was that I had received years ago by putting my trust in Jesus – this grace. Understanding that at the cross, where Jesus died for my sin, everything wrong with us was put on Jesus and everything right with Jesus was put on us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 blew my mind! All my bright and shiny actions, didn’t earn this love. God loved me before I had a chance to try and earn it.

Down the road, God helped me to share my struggles with other Christians who prayed hard for me and saw God deliver me in a mighty way. His grace can handle all of me and keeps shaping my heart each day with His approval and unchanging love in Christ.

Student Life has helped me grow in this and share the same freedom with others. These truths of God's love displace the lies in my mind and now I can really say I am free in Christ…and really smile, too.

Emma attended school at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.