Thursday, February 4, 2010


I spent the last hour and a half at a Hot Yoga class. No praying, no chanting, no bowing - no talking - just 26 moves, worked out in a 30+ degree room designed to destroy you in the best way possible. I came home feeling wonderfully spent, in a shirt that you could ring out.  I have now attended this class twice, and each time I am joyously reminded of who I am.

That being said, I am also painfully reminded that I am not as good as I once was, shoot, at this point I can not even claim to be as good once as I ever was.  I am more out of shape than ever, not as flexible, not as much endurance but more girth!  I blame the decline on a series of unfortunate injuries including a severed ACL and torn Meniscus, followed up by the dislocation of each of my shoulders and most recently the tearing of the major ligaments/tendons in my left ankle. If I was in a differnt place in my life this would have been enough to literally destroy me.  See my identity growing up was found in athletics.  So much so, that I would lie and play down any injuries or physical trauma so that I would not be prevented from competing.  I played pretty much every sport in high school, loved badminton, cycling and baseball, but it was TaeKwonDo that I dedicated my life to.  I earned a 1st degree black belt, and entered every competition I could - placing Second in the Provincials and bound for Nationals with a dream of the Olympics. Everything I was - was wrapped up in what I did - in training and competing.  I can not tell you how painful the transition out of that life was.  While I have not identified as a national level athlete for many years, I have still maintained a portion of my identity in athletics, that was until the ability to perform even adequately was slowly taken from me by injury.  Even now it is hard to be in Yoga class and not excel, but thankfully it is only a fleeting moment of self-deprecation.

I have come through a period of healing over the years that has helped me to realize that I am not what I do.  When I was employed with Wesley Acres, people would refer to me as Chapel Chick it was a title of honour, that in some ways became iconic, but it was not who I am.  The title of friend is also a title I value but even this does not define my identity.  Too often we subconsciously wrap ourselves up in what we do.  Great athletes, centre their life on the sport they excel at, writers on their latest best seller, painters on their most recent masterpiece, Musicians on the top charting song, Spouses on their marriage, Pastors on their role as shepherds, preachers by their sermons.  Other people find their identity in what they have, nice house, cars, popularity, fame fortune.

Here however is the truth - all those things, every single one of them, can be taken away from you, in fact one day they will be, one day we will be buried in the ground and we will no longer be able to maintain any of those titles or possessions.  If you do not know who you are outside of what you do, then you can not do your best.  If you do not know who you are outside of the accolades and  relationships you have with others, then you can not be your best.  If you do not know who you are apart from what you do, or what you have, then you do not know what it is to truly live - free & fulfilled.

When I lost my ability to train and compete, I lost a huge part of what I thought was my identity. I found out, years later, after a lot of painful and dangerous attempts of trying to define myself, who I really was.  I stepped into my true identity.  An identity that can never be taken from me, an identity that is not null and void at my death.  An identity that directs my life and gives it purpose and meaning.  An identity that has nothing to do with what I do, and everything to do with who I am.  I am a child of God - that is my identity and everything else pales in comparison. "I am not what I have. I am not what I do. I am not what people say about me. I am a beloved daughter of Christ." 

"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He created us to be adopted as His sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." ~Ephesians 1:3-8 
Whether you have come to realize it or accept it yet - that is your identity as well!  It is an incredibly freeing and fulfilling thing!  An identity not based on performance or possessions just love.  The fact that I was fearfully and wonderfully made by the creator of the universe is quite the distinction. He knew my identity before I was formed in my mother's wom, because He gave me my identity. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." ~Psalm 139:13He loves me.  I know it sounds crazy - a little bible thumpy, but my life is a testament to the truth.  It's true, not simply because of what someone has told me to believe, or even what I have read, I am smarter, more discerning and stubborn than that. It is true becasuse it is what I have experienced.  It is true because God, in His love has made Himself incredibly real to me.  It began with searching and ended with an invitation too run straight towards my identity - right into the outrstretched arms of God.  When my performance and posessions fail me and others, I stand on the promise found in Psalm 73:25-26 "Whom have I in heaven but thee? My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever"

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