Remember Who You Are

Time was running out. We were down one goal to zero with a spot in the semifinals on the line. With just a few minutes to go, one of our top players was able to break through for a goal. The score was still tied when the clock hit zero. So with rain pouring down, the wind blowing, and freezing parents bundled up in blankets on the sidelines, it all comes down to this: penalty kicks.

Tie games in the tournament are decided by alternating penalty kicks (best of five). It’s a pressure-packed situation for everyone, but the biggest burden lies with the goalkeeper.

Jack, one of my 10-year-old twins, was interested in playing goalie the previous season. He started that season as the backup, but he seemed to have good instincts for it. Midway through the season, he won the starting job and never looked back. He continued to grow and do well at the position this season, but as a 10-year-old perfectionist, he sometimes struggles to keep things in perspective.

We spent extra time on penalty kicks the night before the tournament. It paid off. We scored on three of our first four attempts, including a score by Jack’s twin brother, Luke. Jack managed to get an early stop, and the other team scored on three of their first four attempts as well. I gave Jack the nod to be our fifth shooter because he had done so well at practice, and as goalkeeper, this would be his only opportunity to score all season. He lined up and nailed the shot to give us a five to four advantage. He trotted back into the goal to face their fifth shooter. A stop here wins the game. The shot comes, Jack makes the block, and the referee blows the whistle to signal game over. Our team and sideline erupt with cheers, and Jack is mobbed by his teammates. It’s one of the most exciting sports moments of his life.

Less than an hour later, we’re playing a semifinal game against the number one team and eventual champion. They punched in a few goals in the first half, and at halftime, Jack came dragging toward the bench with shoulders drooped, his gloves off, and tears rolling down his cheek. I question him, and he proceeds to tell me that he’s the worst goalie ever and doesn’t deserve to play anymore. Those sentiments are clearly lies - lies that he’s telling himself.

I reminded him that those are lies, and he needs to replace them with some truths. I told him to repeat after me: “I am goalie for a reason. I am a good goalie. I’ve made great plays. I can do it again. No one is perfect. I can’t do the impossible. God loves me. My dad loves me. My dad is proud of me. Nothing can change that.” With his head full of those truths and several others instead of lies, he played confidently and joyfully in the second half. Although they scored some more, he made some unbelievable diving stops that impressed the whole crowd - including the opposing coach. To my delight, he was still joyful after the loss. He told me he finally gained perspective.

The enemy and even our own brain feeds us lies about ourselves. Replace those lies with truth. What does God say about you? Remember who you are, and, more importantly, whose you are. Christian, rest in God’s truth and walk in freedom.

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