I have struggled a lot with wanting to have fun and embrace my youth and wanting to fully surrender myself to God and let him use me.

After typing that sentence, I realized how ridiculous it sounds. Growing up as a believer, I know what powerful things God can do when you let him. But growing up in a secular world, I know that it is not as easy as it sounds. Because while I can fill myself up with truths from the Bible and go to church and listen to podcasts by my favorite pastors, I am still going to have to go out into the world and hear what they say.

It is hard to not want to take part in what the world has to offer.

I am now in my second semester of freshman year. I have made it through the difficult time of transition to living on my own, I am rarely homesick anymore, I have new friends, and I am finding out more about myself each day. It is crazy to think that I have four months of freshman year left – it feels like I moved in last week.

When I realize how quickly college is passing by, it makes me want to take full advantage of the time that I am in. It makes me want to go out and have fun, late nights with my friends. It makes me want to study and make good grades in the classes that I have before they get too terribly difficult. It makes me want to hold on to the moments that I am experiencing and live them fully.

God gave us life on earth to live to the fullest, but sometimes I feel guilty if I don’t want to spend every waking moment reading my Bible or going to church. I feel like I am not doing my part as a believer if I want to go out in college. I get caught up in the religion factor of Christianity when I should be focusing on a relationship with my creator.

Being a Christian is not about perfect living. It is the complete opposite. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that in order to call myself a Christian, I have to be as close to perfect as humanly possible. The entire reason that a relationship with God is so amazing is because we are able to be imperfect. We are saved and chosen and freed and desired despite how broken and imperfect we are. As hard as I try sometimes to act like I have everything together, God knows that I don’t and loves me anyway.

In this world, we will have trouble. Whether this trouble is a loss of a family member, a medical condition, an internal struggle, or a combination of these and more, take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus didn’t die for us to live perfect lives and do everything right.

The third chapter of John says that God sent his son not to condemn, but to save. Thousands of testimonies are built around the fact that we are so messed up and realize that we can’t do it on our own. Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” No one in this world deserves what he has to give us, yet we can get it anyway.

It is finished. Salvation is freely given by grace through faith. It has nothing to do with the deeds that we do or how well we live our lives. Therefore, while it is important to build the kingdom and do our part as Jesus’s hands and feet in the world, it is also important to not get caught up in the “rules” of being a Christian.

God’s greatest desire is to know us and for us to know him. So before trying your best to cancel out the amount of mistakes you’ve made with the amount of Starbucks you’ve bought for the person behind you, remember that God wants a relationship, not a list of the things you have done or not done.