Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Putting grace to the test: A crown of love

Last week I discussed how my courage is being put to the test, in an exciting way! This week, I thought I'd give an update on my progress towards the second of my two words for 2013: "grace."  With "courage" taking the scene last week, "grace" is now trying to squeeze its way in through more humbling means. 

I am currently training for a half marathon in April and have really been enjoying the time running with my friends. However, due to a couple bad colds that I've gotten and some other life events, I've been fatigued recently and not able to run. During several training days, my friends were gracious and walked with me. But it's difficult to transfer that grace to myself. I'm doing yoga and pilates instead right now, but my achiever mentality makes it challenging to stop thinking about the increased mileage that I'm getting behind on by not running.

I even just bought new running shoes that I'm eager to use...

But I am recognizing that during this break from training, a bigger question is in the picture: Where is my identity? 

I've been convicted this week that I've been placing some of my identity into being a runner, wanting to succeed. And with other family circumstances that are happening now, I am also making my identity into a "fixer" or problem solver. Instead, my true identity should point to God and His ultimate plan, allowing Him to work out everything according to His good purposes

Even my actual name, Stephanie, is in itself an identity. Stephanie means "crowned," and God used this meaning to remind me today that He gives me an identity in Him.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits - 
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
and satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Psalm 103 (above) reminded me that no matter the life circumstances, God crowns me with his love and compassion. Why would I desire to put my hope, trust, or identity in anything else besides this promise?

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