You can’t define yourself

Story time:

I’ve had problems with my knees and one of my shoulders for quite some time. Last month, I went to a specialist to have x-rays taken and get a diagnosis. I was hoping for something specific that was both treatable and had a quick recovery process.

Instead, I was told that I have overuse tendonitis in both of my knees and my shoulder. There is no fast treatment or fast recovery process, and healing will require quitting many of the activities that I love to do for some time, and then cutting back frequency when I return to them.

Hearing that was crushing. For quite some time, ever since I started to become a fitness junkie, I had defined my physical self by the intensity of my workouts. The harder I went, the more intense the workout, the better I felt and the more I appreciated who I was.

The diagnosis I received sent me reeling, not just because I now have to change most of my workouts to keep my joints healthy, but because I can no longer fulfill that self-definition of ‘intense gym junkie’. I had staked my confidence on that perception, that part of me I had established, and not being able to keep that up anymore didn’t just leave me needing different workouts; it left me lost and discouraged.

The past few weeks have gone by, and each day at the gym was hard. Each day, I left not thinking about what I had accomplished, but about what was lacking. I grew more and more discouraged as the days went on, even though I knew that if I let myself rest from the workouts that were hurting me, I could gradually pick them back up.

A few days ago, I was feeling especially low. I walked into the gym, and felt so discouraged I almost quit what I was doing to leave. Suddenly, the clear voice of God reminded me of something that made me stop and think:

“You can’t build yourself on this foundation. Your confidence, your significance, and your foundation rest in me, not in what you can accomplish.”

In my head, I knew that my foundation was built in Christ. I can change my actions, I can work to become the person he has created me to be, but I can never define myself. He’s already defined me as a sinner who has been saved, a woman who will shine his light in this world, build his Kingdom, and live to both glorify and enjoy him.

My head knew this, but my heart had strayed.

Folks, the reason that I felt so crushed by having to change an important part of my life was because I was letting it consume me. When we try to set up these strongholds of our lives, these foundations, we forget that they crumble. We’re leaving our foundations that are built on the very Rock of this world to try and build castles with foundations of sand.

It’s an impossible thing to do, and the castles that we try to build will inevitably crumble.

I’m thankful that God is gracious and that he gently reminds hearts that are hurting of his truth. Let us chase dreams and grow as people. Yet, let that growth be rooted in him, and let us never think that anything we accomplish or create can define us better than the definition our King has already given our lives.

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