“I always tried to be the perfect Christian girl,” said Tricia Griffin. “Around five years old, I became a Christian by accepting the words of the gospel, but I didn’t know how to accept His grace for my daily life. I knew Christ provides joy, fullness, and satisfaction, but I didn’t realize that comes through a daily, personal relationship with Him.
“I kept living a self-sufficient life. I tried to perfectly check all the boxes in church, school, and family. Instead of bringing me peace, trying to perform and achieve led to more insecurity. I thought if I loved my appearance and gained the admiration of others, I would feel secure. But in reality, my self-esteem was so low that I didn’t let others really know me, causing even more isolation.
“My insecurity, loneliness, and desire to be loved created the perfect storm for more sin – specifically lustful thoughts and sexual sin – to creep in. I thought I was disgusting, broken, and alone for struggling the way I did. That sense of shame kept me quiet – convinced that I was the only girl who struggled with these specific sins. I felt so deeply alone, but I was afraid people would reject me if they found out what I was hiding.
“For years, I was in a vicious cycle of addiction and shame. I didn’t even want to look in the mirror. I remember going to summer camp and church events, swearing that I would change, but I never followed through. I couldn’t get rid of my addiction on my own. I was frustrated because I knew what was right, I just didn’t have the power to say no (Romans 7:18).
“By God’s grace, I had the opportunity my freshman year of college to share my struggle with a friend. In an effort to encourage her through a hard season, I told her about my own sin habits and addiction. It was the first time I had ever told anyone. She didn’t react with disgust or shock; She was rooted in Scripture and pointed me to Christ. Her response gave me a picture of Christ’s love and confidence to confess again to the biblical community around. me. I wanted to bring everything into the light. I was no longer in the shadows where I felt alone and shameful. This confession was a huge part of the process of my healing (James 5:16).
“Finding community and an authentic place to share and be held accountable was such an important part of my journey. The discipline of confession to community helped me slow down and ask myself, ‘Is this sin worth it?’ Believers around me truly knew me, saw my sin, and reminded me that I was loved by them and by God. I still have to fight temptation, but the more time I spend with Christ, the less I want to give into sin that doesn’t satisfy.
“Later, I attended re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, and learned that a lot of my sins were rooted in perfectionism. I thought I had to be perfect to be loved by Christ, but that is such a lie. I came to understand that Jesus knew my past, present, and future sin and still chose to die on a cross for me (Romans 5:8). Any love that has to be earned is fleeting and counterfeit. Because of Christ, I have access to perfect love that doesn’t need to be earned. I could find the freedom, acceptance, value, and security I was looking for in Him.
“God, in His kindness, has used my story to encourage others. Now serving in re:generation I have a weekly opportunity to share my struggles and tell others how God changed my life. Christ has given me such freedom that I look forward to sharing the parts of my life I used to hide, because it helps others see the goodness of God. I get to witness as people confess their sin for the very first time, and I’m able to respond with grace like my friend did for me.
“I want others to know that you don’t have to be perfect to experience the goodness of God. We’re all broken, but when you bring your sin to light and see that God has never left you, you’ll see how much He loves you. You don’t have to do any cleaning up to make your relationship right with God; He does the cleaning. He breaks the chains of addiction. He is powerful enough to overcome anything.
“There are still many days where it’s hard to feel God’s presence and say no to temptation, but I know I can confess to God and to others and they won’t reject me. I was afraid to confess because I didn’t want people to look at me differently or through the lens of my sin. Today, I know He says I am not defined by my sin, but I am defined by His sacrifice.”