On the Sunday of the first week of my senior year, I sat in church with my family, taking notes as I listened to my pastor preach on Hebrews 10. He spoke about how we are free to live a life without guilt or shame because Christ’s obedience is sufficient for everything we need. Near the end of his sermon, my pastor said these words:

Maybe you were that obedient kid. . . . Maybe you were the son or the daughter that was the good one. All the teachers loved you, your parents loved you, [and] the friends’ parents loved you ’cause you were the good kid [who] did everything right.

I perked up from my notebook as soon as I felt the tug on my heartstrings. I knew that kid, and she was me.

In my family I’m the oldest of four. When we were younger, they called me the “angel child.” I seemed to almost never get into trouble. Whenever they would fight, I would just go upstairs to my room and draw, write stories, or look through American Girl catalogs. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have my moments. There were plenty of instances when I couldn’t hear my mom yelling my full name from the bottom of the stairs because I was blasting Taylor Swift’s Fearless CD in my room instead of doing chores.

Maybe you’re like me. Your siblings would fight like alley cats over a tin of rotten sardines while you would scurry off like a mouse to the safety of your comfortable hole. You wouldn’t be called a bad name or punched in the arm. You wouldn’t get punished. There was a freedom in knowing better. There was a freedom in being obedient.

As I grew older, there was a sort of satisfaction I got from doing the right thing. The fear of what would happen if I screwed up lingered in my mind. This fear wasn’t a matter in the assurance of my salvation but rather in the fact that I didn’t want my seemingly spotless reputation to be tarnished. Everyone knew me as the “good kid,” and that mentality stuck with me all the way up through college.

My life was a balancing act. I was walking on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, but I was no acrobat. Each step was a wobble, every breath was short and shallow, and my heart was unable to keep a stable beat. I looked down at my feet on the rope and then into the ravine below—deep, dark, desolate. I wondered what it would be like to fall down there. That didn’t take too long to find out.

During my sophomore year, I made a mistake and lost my balance. I plummeted into that ravine below and knew it to be exactly as I thought it would, except it was also cold, painful, and heavy. Many people walked away during that time, but some people stayed—and thank God they did. While in that ravine, I realized my mistake was created from a strand of other mistakes that led to my destruction. It took months to rebuild my strength, but I was finally back on the tightrope, and I was extra cautious to maintain as best as I could my reputation as the “good kid.” Yet while on that rope, I couldn’t help but realize that there was a bridge beside me.

Two years later here I was, sitting in church, wondering what Christ’s obedience had to do with “good kids” like me. My pastor continued with a joyful tone and a warm smile:

You know what this means, good kid? You can make a mistake now. The obedience of Christ is what your assurance is in, not on you keeping it all together. You can make a mistake, and you’ll be fine.

Suddenly, the weight of everything, of trying to hold everything together, slipped off of me. I don’t have to walk on that tightrope anymore because Christ constructed a bridge for me. His obedience gives me a path I can walk on without the fear of falling; and if I fall, His forgiveness and grace are there to catch me.

Yes, there is freedom in obedience, but not in mine. I can't follow every rule perfectly or make zero mistakes. I fail over and over again. It’s part of my fallen human nature. It’s only in Christ alone that I can find true freedom because His obedience is perfect.

It is through salvation that we can walk on this bridge. Therefore, we don’t have to rely on ourselves in order to get through this life. Our bad reputation is covered by His perfect one. So, if you’re like me—the “good kid” trying to rely on his or her own obedience—you can rest now. I promise you, it’s going to be okay. You’re never going to be perfectly obedient—you don’t have that capacity. But Jesus does. Rest in Him and let Him lead you through this life in the freedom of His obedience.