It used to be that every soap opera and sitcom TV show could only remain on the air if they followed a prescribed formula. For instance, there should be at least one episode with an Evil Twin. There should also be an episode where the main characters get trapped somewhere (locked inside a freezer or stranded in a remote cabin during a storm) where they can reminisce over a series of flashbacks.
Another required plotline was the Amnesia Dilemma. I saw it happen to MaryAnn on Gilligan’s Island and Luke on the Dukes of Hazzard and Michelle from Full House. Even Alf, the puppet/alien from the TV show Alf, suffered from severe memory loss after an electrical shock. Most of them were able to regain their memory with another well-placed hit on the head, but until the therapeutic blow was applied comedy ensued.
Growing up, I lived in fear that I would fall victim to amnesia. I thought it was a given, just a matter of time. I assumed I would get knocked in the head (most imagined scenarios involved my older sister as the perpetrator) and I would look around at once-familiar faces and ask, “Who am I? Why am I here?”
I never imagined that amnesia might actually happen without any head-cracking. I never would’ve thought that one day I might look around and ask the same questions: “Who am I? Why am I here?” But that is a possible byproduct of adulthood. There are times when, though with a fully (relatively-speaking) operational mind, I question my identity.
I get caught up in my roles—someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s employee, someone’s friend—and I start to lose myself in the process. I become not just a mom, but a mom to a great student or an average athlete or the woman the preschool calls about her child’s “biting problem.” My identity gets tangled up in their identities. My worries and hopes reflect their worries and hopes. These things pile up, layer after layer, on top of me until I’m unrecognizable even to myself.
If I scrub away all of these extras—the genuine and the counterfeit—and I stand bare-footed and alone, who am I? I’m offered a real and lasting identity through my relationship with an amazing God. Whether I always feel it or not, I am loved and accepted (Ephesians 1:6). I am forgiven (Colossians 1:14). I am fearless (2 Timothy 1:7). I am chosen (Colossians 3:12). I am complete (Colossians 2:10).
These are the descriptions I want to illustrate the real me. They aren’t contingent on my intellect, my weight, my fashion sense, or my bank account. It may require a mighty blow to my head, but I am ready to have some sense knocked into me. I’m ready to truly know who I am.