Finding Peace from the Pressure

You don’t have to strive to be perfect—you’re loved simply for being the individual you are.Oftentimes, the most stress you face in life comes from one of the most influential people you’ll ever know—yourself. Sandra McCollom, author of I Tried Until I Almost Died, knows what it feels like to live under a great amount of self-imposed pressure. Her need to depend on her own self-efforts to be “good enough” started at a young age. After becoming a Christian at the age of 8, she spent years living the way she thought she should live. She did things simply because she thought she had to.

According to McCollom, she didn’t understand the full realm of what faith meant. “I was saved by grace, but I didn’t understand grace,” she said. “I didn’t have the proper understanding of God’s true nature. I was definitely not receiving His love for me.”

When McCollom married her husband, Steve, in 1991 and eventually started a family, her need to run on what she calls her “treadmill of accomplishment” only continued and even grew to another level. She gave birth to twins in 2003. Operating on four hours of sleep daily, she tried to be the best mom for them. Four months after her daughters were born, however, McCollom developed health problems. In 2009, she found herself with severe troubles—in the form of a cyst that was the size of a cantaloupe that had to be surgically removed.

Even that didn’t stop McCollom. She kept driving herself to do more than she could handle. She was worn out by the end of 2011—she had been to multiple doctors, and her kidney was not working properly. She even started to believe that her problems were the result of her being punished for something she did—until God changed her heart on Jan. 2, 2012. While journaling, she felt His love completely sweep over her. “It’s hard to explain—it was just absolutely wonderful,” McCollom said. “What happened in those moments is that God showed me that I was okay. He loves me unconditionally—not for what I do, but for who I am as His daughter.”

She noticed an immediate change. According to McCollom, she started living in a form of great peace that she had never experienced before. She responded to life completely differently than she had in the past. God showed her the riches of His grace—that He gives you good things simply because He is good. She saw many changes in her life and found that she was actually accomplishing so much more than when she let her self-efforts take charge.

Tried Until I Almost DiedMcCollom, who has a history of struggling to be on time, said she was even more forgiving of herself. She stopped feeling guilty for arriving late. She reminded herself that her righteousness is based on Jesus dying on the cross and not on her being on time. After the first few times of telling herself that, she felt a new peace. “I did that three times--being late somewhere and just contented to have that attitude--and it was so freeing,” she said. “To me, that was receiving His grace.”

The results have helped her punctuality even more. She told her husband that she has a desire to walk in love with people by making sure she’s on time and not making others rush. She is hardly late anywhere she goes now. She credits this to God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit changing her from the inside out.

McCollom realizes that imperfections will still be there, but she learned to be okay with it. She chooses to share her story and the struggles she overcame to help others come to the same place of rest that she has found. By being able to receive God’s grace in every situation throughout the day and trusting Him through everything, McCollom realized that it’s possible to be imperfect and still be loved just the same. “I don’t come under guilt and condemnation anymore like I used to live under constantly,” she said. “I know that I am loved by God no matter what. I cannot even explain how this has revolutionized my life.”