Extra Credit

Being seen, acknowledged, and admired has admittedly been a big driving force in my life. The never-satisfied hunger for approval and attention has motivated many of my decisions.

When I was little, I would dream of being a movie star. I pictured myself surrounded by adoring fans who could see my worth, the worth I didn’t believe was there.  No matter what anyone said about me, it was never enough. No matter what I chased, it never filled my need.

Underneath the self-serving grandstanding, was a desperate child who didn’t know where she belonged or who she really belonged to. The unanswered question of my value was like a starving wolf. Eventually, after searching for significance down many paths, I wearily landed on my face. I encountered His grace, alone, in a cinderblock dorm room, where I cried out to God, asking Him to either kill me or save me.  I know a miracle happened in that shattering moment, He came and He saved and I became a new person in so many ways.

“I have been reminded that my identity must be shaped by whose I am, not what I am.”

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10

In exuberance, after my conversion, I exerted all my energy into “doing good” and “pleasing God” and “learning more.” I wanted to be His good child and those things aren’t bad, but it’s interesting how that old nature can creep into something holy. Without me even knowing it, my value and worth began to take shape around my “Christian image,” instead of the person of Jesus.  Taking pride in “being wise” and as a “leader” in the church, I wrote these accomplishments down on my mental resume’.  This extra credit became my identity, not His Grace.  And when I wasn’t acknowledged for my lofty skills and accomplishments, anger and resentment quickly lead to a hard heart.

The humbling process has not been easy! Through His grace, I have been reminded that my identity must be shaped by whose I am, not what I am.  He created us to do good things…that HE SET OUT FOR US TO DO.  Knowing that He had me in mind, before creation, to carry out a task for Him, is mind blowing. This alone should humble and boost us at the same time. And, yet, I still find myself often possessive of the glory. This will probably continue to be something the Lord works on in my heart until eternity. However, I am thankful for His persistence and patience. He continues to use me, despite the deficits. And isn’t that beautiful grace too? His mighty hand stepped in to save me from myself and from eternal separation and that same grace sweeps over my heart daily to gently remind me of WHOSE I am so that I can do what He desires. I am His and He is doing a good thing through this broken vessel.

Isn’t it amazing?

Have you struggled to know your worth, your identity? Do you remember the grace that He gave you in your salvation? Do you see His hand of grace working now in your life? Ask Him to show you. He is faithful!

-Kristi Carden, Pelham