There’s a verse from Song of Solomon in the Bible that has gotten stuck in my head and I swear will never leave. It says, “His banner over me is love,” and I love everything about that.
Can you picture what that would look like? I picture God holding a gorgeous, hand-lettered banner high over my head that follows me everywhere I go. I picture it like one of those “Hi, my name is _______” name tags, but totally over the top in the very best way.
“His banner over me is love.” Love is my name tag. Love is how I’m known, and how I’m recognized, and the umbrella that stretches over my head. I want that to be my story, and I want that to be yours too.
Unfortunately, more often than not, I think we’re standing under banners that say drastically different things.
When you think of the banner over your head, what does it say? What words do you carry as you walk through your life? What words define you?
I have a feeling “love” might not be at the top of that list.
I began thinking about this a few years ago, and was mulling it over with a friend when she suggested I make a list of the name tags I was wearing in place of “love.”
“What do you believe to be true about yourself?” she asked me. I realized I didn’t know, but I wanted to find out.
The next morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and my journal and began to make a list.
What words actually define me? What words am I wearing around like a name tag? What words do I actually believe to be true about myself?
The list looked something like this:
- A lot of work
- Not worth the effort
- Somebody’s last choice
These words, these horrible, devastating words, were the honest-to-God things I believed about myself. I had just never said them out loud.
Can you picture walking into a networking event with these words Sharpied on your chest? “Hi, my name is Annoying,” “Hi, my name is A Lot of Work.” Can you imagine? But that’s what I’d been doing! I’d been going into friendships, relationships, introductions, meetings, job interviews, experiences, moments, with these words scrawled on my heart.
And just like a pesky sticker, the longer I wore them around, the harder they were to get off. Not only that, but regardless of how people were actually treating me, what they actually thought of me, or what was going on outside of my head, it didn’t matter. Because no name tag anyone else assigned me could overwhelm the name tags I’d allowed to sit there for so long. No love, no affirmation, no praise could come through louder than the messages I was inadvertently believing every single day.
So that morning, for the first time in my whole life, I began to question the things I’d always believed about myself. I began to sort through the words I’d trusted for so long, picking them up and examining them one by one. Where did I get this? When did this one show up? Is what they’re saying true?
In a small, quiet corner of my heart, I began to wonder what God might say about me, hoping that His name tags for me might look more like love than mine did.
And so I decided to find out.
I spent hours combing through the Bible looking for the words God uses to define us.
That was the day I found out that nothing I’d believed about myself was actually true.
God’s opinion of me was in stark contrast to the banner I’d been living under, and I liked His version much better.
God said I was chosen, that I was enough, perfectly and wonderfully made, that there was no flaw in me. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but I scribbled them down as fast as my hand would move.
Once I had my list of words God uses to define us, I took it one step further. If I wanted to think differently about myself, I was going to have to get a new name tag. I was going to have to replace the thoughts I’d gotten so used to thinking, the tapes in my head I’d gotten so used to listening to.
So I grabbed a Sharpie and a stack of sticky notes and actually created new name tags.
I made one, and then two, and then went crazy and made about 20. I taped them all over my room, surrounded my bed with them, making sure they’d be the first and last thing I saw every day.
Over the next several months, things began to change. As I began to believe the things He said were true about me, I began to stand taller somehow. With those name tags proudly displayed on my chest, I felt new, different, confident in a way I never had before.
Every so often, I hear those old names used again in my mind. Every so often when I’m tired, or overwhelmed, or extra emotional, they creep back in. But those instances have become less and less frequent.
And today, more than ever, I can see that banner over my head and the banner says “love.”
What banner are you living under? Who does God say you are? Is it time to rewrite some name tags of your own?