out of the ashes
when it comes to movies, i handed in my man card a long time ago. while many guys i know include movies like Gladiator and Braveheart in their favorites, mine include Shadowlands, The Help and The Incredibles.
so with that disclaimer, it should come as no surprise that i added another film to my favorites list this year—Cinderella. i loved the movie, primarily because of the words and messages in the film.
one scene in particular is simple but carries tremendous weight. ella has slept on the floor by the fire in the kitchen to stay warm. the ashes from the fireplace are smudged on her face. the next morning, as she is serving her stepsisters and stepmother breakfast, ella is oblivious to her soiled appearance.
one of her stepsisters mockingly gives her the name “Cinder-Ella,” and the name is quickly adopted by the cruel stepmother and the self-absorbed stepsisters.
ella retreats to the kitchen, and falls to the floor. the weight of being strong, being kind has become too much to bear after this cruel taunting. and then comes the gold in the scene.
in a voiceover by the film’s narrator, we hear these words:
“‘Cinder-Ella’—names have power, like magic spells. And all of a sudden, it seemed to her that her stepmother and stepsisters had indeed transformed her into merely a creature of ash and toil.”
names have power, like magic spells. they linger. they cling. they bind.
every one of us is known by a name—not the name on your birth certificate.
it’s a name that someone may not actually audibly call out.
but it’s one you hear.
it affects how you see the world. other people. yourself.
for some, it’s a beloved name.
others, it’s cursed.
for some, it’s a wound that never healed.
it’s that spot in your soul that winces when touched.
or lashes out in feeble retaliation.
my name is “never enough.”
i’m not sure who or what gave me that name, but whoever did or in whatever circumstance it became affixed to me, it did so with the most intense magic.
it’s a spell that is not easily broken.
it’s one that has had me enchanted, even if i haven’t always answered to that particular name.
i felt it any time i was on the outskirts of a group, not quite in.
i felt it all the time in P.E. class, and around other guys.
i felt it anytime i didn’t make the cut, make the grade or get some acknowledgement or prize i coveted.
i know that God says, “He’s enough.”
i get that.
but there’s something so hardwired within me that defaults to never enough.
sometimes i don’t understand how i can have a win, yet still feel like i didn’t do enough.
there’s not a person to blame for this.
this isn’t the fault of a parent.
i have always felt this way.
and the times when i have felt enough have been squashed by the reality of some other area of lack.
when someone asks me to do something, i instantly start analyzing in my head if i’m capable of doing it. if i don’t think i can, or even if there’s a small portion of uncertainty, i react strongly—whether it’s in fear or frustration.
if i’m already busy, and someone asks me to do something else, i panic. will i have enough to do that too?
or if there is something to be done in the area of mechanics or home improvement, i retreat into a fetal position.
or if someone wants to offer some advice on how i can do something better, my first reaction isn’t to take it and learn from it and get better. their words poke at that open wound that i’m not enough. and i will do whatever i can to critique myself so others don’t have to.
i don’t wake up every day and call myself by this name.
and it’s a name that i feel less known by now, in my forties, than when i was decades younger.
but it’s still there and rings loudly whenever the right situation or circumstance triggers it.
i know what Jesus says about who i am, and how He is enough. but i’m still in the process of believing it.
names have power, like magic spells.
what name are you known by and why?
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image courtesy of flickr.com/creativecommons/by ana c.