He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
When I worked in the corporate world, I had a few nicknames. “Tiger Lady” and “Xena Warrior Princess” were two favorites of my team members. They were appropriate because I was intense, driven, and competitive. I am of the generation that taught girls can do anything boys can do. In the environment I was in, I had a lot to prove, and that attitude served me well. I was successful mostly because I pushed myself to be better than my peers’to win and not look back. My performance defined my value, which made for a difficult transition to make as a stay-at-home mom!
I was still working my sales job when I came back to the Lord at age twenty-nine. I started to realize there’d been a tangible shift. That drive to win, to have my worth defined by how successful I was in the eyes of others, wasn’t gone. Yet the talons of that dangerous works-based spirit weren’t dug as deep in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, play a game with me and you’ll find I am still just as competitive. Still, that competitiveness drove my self-worth. My identity as “the Tiger Lady” was being stripped away, slowly and surely, like a dull varnish. God wanted to reveal the true craftsmanship underneath.
I’ve watched my mom restore furniture. It is a long, laborious process. It’s a good analogy for what happened and continues to happen in my soul through the work of the Holy Spirit. He is poured out on us, coating us with grace, mercy, and hope. He is the stain remover, taking off the layers of identity He did not give us. He corrects our vision and removes those dangerous parasites and weeds caused by this fallen existence. Sometimes, multiple layers come off. In others, it is little by little, but He stays in there. He works until the work is complete and the true crafted masterpiece is revealed.
I know I’m different than who I was more than a decade ago. I have learned (the hard way) my old, bossy, and scrambling ways don’t work. I can’t flex my own muscles to bring about His kingdom purposes. It is through a process of responding to the invitations God gives to work and partner alongside His Spirit. But first, we must hold out our hands so He can scrub away the stickiness of our fleshly selves to reveal the true, gleaming real wood underneath, originally created for very good works.
I’ve traded “the Tiger Lady” for trying to be a lamb He carries, guides, comforts, teaches, corrects, and cares for all day, every day. The Holy Spirit reminds me regularly who is really doing the work of transformation in my life. Anything significant I’ve done has been because He has done it in and through me. I am only a willing participant and conduit of His love and power to others.
My intensity now comes from my changed desires and motivations. I want to love well, to live better than I did yesterday, as I more fully become the beloved. I know I don’t have to prove anything, but it’s still a journey to live from that place. There’s no longer a need to compete and work for God because as I rest in the hands of my Maker, I will share in the goodness He is revealing. It’s a beautiful partnership where He does all the work.
Come, Holy Spirit, and show me how to be justified’to find my worth in You and nothing else. Show me what it means to live as an heir, where the resources are abundant and require no competition. Allow me to follow’to let You do the work and find my rest as Your beloved. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What have you experienced as you’ve begun the process of letting the Holy Spirit strip you of your old identity and give you new life and purpose in Him?
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