Have you ever seen the movie “50 First Dates”? In it, the main character, Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore suffers from short term memory loss. Henry, played by Adam Sandler, falls in love with her but has to woo her again every day because she forgets who he is.
I love the picture this paints! I’m completely guilty, myself, of forgetting who I am. Instead of accepting the word of the One who created me, I label myself. The problem is that my labels are circumstantial. They can be based on seasons of my life, my failures, my shortcomings, comparisons to others, and roles that I play among other things. In any one day I could wear many labels: Wife, mom, teacher, taxi driver, student, employee, house manager, cook, daughter, sister, friend, and sometimes blogger. Many days my labels are based on my shortcomings: impatient, lazy, easily frustrated, always distracted, inconsistent, inattentive, messy, disorganized, overwhelmed, insufficient, not enough.
These labels become my identity. I don’t know who I am outside of them so every time one of them changes, I find myself in crisis again. When I don’t do something I set out to do, then my label becomes, “Failure.” If I face criticism or anything other than a 100% approval rating, I’m personally devastated because it confirms to me that there is something inherently wrong with me.
And you know? I’m right! There IS something wrong!
What’s wrong is the labels I’m using to define who I am! They are temporary and inaccurate. Satan is a big fan of this because if there’s something God wants me to do and I don’t feel like it fits into on of my “custom-designed” labels I’ve created for myself, then chances are good that I won’t even try it.
My excuses will sound like this,
“I’m not a _(Insert label)_.”
“Who do I think I am? I can’t even __ (Insert recent failures)__.”
In “50 First Dates”, Henry must woo Lucy every morning so that she will fall in love with him all over again.
God does this for us. He is our Henry. He will woo us as many times as it takes, and he loves us so much that he never tires of it. What’s really amazing though is if we re-examine our labels, they don’t match up with God’s words about us at all!
He says we are blameless. He calls us bold and fearless. He says we are chosen. He tells us we can do anything through him.
Those words don’t match my labels at all. Even better? God’s labels for us don’t change. Ever. I can take it to the bank because he is the same yesterday, today, and forever! If he says it, (and he does) it’s true whether or not we “feel” like it. I rarely, if ever, FEEL blameless, bold, fearless or chosen because those are really BIG words, but I can choose to believe it anyway! I can meditate on it, I can listen to some great songs about it, I can write it down and post it where I can read it and be reminded, and then when I start to use those excuses that say I am not ____ or I can’t even___, God’s words will come back to me. His labels give us confidence. They are truth.
So when God nudges you to do something you don’t feel qualified to do, and Satan starts in with his narrative, it should go something like this,
Lies: “You could never pull off something like that. Who are you to do that thing? Remember last time you screwed up? Don’t you remember who you are?”
Truth: And then your lift one eyebrow, smile and you say, “Indeed.” And you remind yourself that as a child of the one true King, you are saved, redeemed, beloved, precious and important in God’s work. You are chosen. You are free. You remind yourself that those lies of self-doubt come from Satan, not your heavenly father. Then you roll your eyes at Satan, remind him where he can go, and you ROCK that thing.
I would love to tell you that at the end of “50 First Dates,” Lucy regains her memories and her identity, but she doesn’t. We are left to feel a twinge of sadness for Henry because he must work so hard for her affections every. single. day. of. forever. It seems their relationship is doomed never to become a deep and satisfying one.
That’s where our stories differ! If we marinate in God’s truth about us, he will continue to woo us, but our identity begins to line up with His truth. Our narrative changes. We begin to see ourselves through God’s labels for us, and in that, there is freedom. YOU ARE FREE INDEED!
“So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!” ~John 8:36