One of the most vivid memories I have as a child is when I would get to sit in the front seat of the car with my dad while we went on a road trip. I don’t remember the first time he called me this or if it was actually only once. If it was only once, it was more than enough because this is one memory my brain has involuntarily hung onto my entire life.
There was something in the way he said it. I felt special, equal, useful and more than anything, I felt like we were in something together that not everyone was invited into. It was our thing. It was our name; a code of sorts that you could say while looking at the other one with a wink and a smile and for that moment it was just the two of you in on some secret mission against the rest of the world.
He was choosing me to be this special Co-Pilot, whatever that was, and it was awesome.
Armed with a pillow to sit on (this was back before car-seat rules existed apparently) and a Garth Brooks or Amy Grant cassette tape to put in the dashboard, my Co-Pilot checklist was checked and I was ready.
Dad in the driver’s seat, me in the front passenger seat, I felt like I was the most special and equal partner to one of my favorite people on the planet. I felt like I could do anything. We’d drive down the long stretches of highway on the way to see family in southern Oregon and as dad drove I was perfectly content sitting and riding along as Co-Pilot. After all, that’s what Co-Pilot’s did. They sang along to I’ve Got Friends in Low Places and dad would try to avoid the question of what whiskey was (I think he actually convinced me the word was whiskers for many years) and there was not a care in the world.
As I think back on that memory with a smile, and I often do, I’m struck with how much that simple title meant to me without any understanding of what it was. I remember later in my childhood learning what it actually meant and I was baffled that it wasn’t something that was only known to my dad and I. I remember feeling as if a little bit of the magic had been lost when learning that this was a term used for thousands of people and not just for me.
But upon further investigation into my heart surrounding this topic I am coming to learn that it wasn’t actually about the name at all. It was about the one who gave it to me. My dad could have called me a sewer rat (affectionately of course) and I wouldn’t have cared because it was coming from him.
We see this play out in the lives of many children, both on the good and the bad end of the spectrum, and throughout the course of our lives we still hold great loyalty to the ones who said these things to us whether they impacted our lives negatively or positively.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to learn who to listen to. I’ve started to be able to untangle the titles put on me and, even if they were put onto me by people I loved and respected, I’ve started to learn how to cast off the ones that God never intended for me to have.
I think we all need to come to a place like this at some point if we’re going to truly step into all that God has created for us.
I don’t need to hold onto the titles of being too much or dramatic or emotional or immature or the myriad of other things that come up in my mind right now as I think of some of the more hurtful titles that have been given to me involuntarily. No. They may have been given to me involuntarily, but now it is my turn to give those back; to ask God to help me strip myself of those that He never intended me to bare, and to have Him replace those with the ones that He has deemed worthy of His daughter.
Now it is up to me. It’s my turn to choose now who I listen to. Will I listen to God or the enemy? Will I live as the woman who only filters my identity through Christ? Or will I continue listening to this world? At some point we’ve got to choose. And once we choose? Well then it’s time to fully commit.
What about you? What titles have been given to you that it is now time to strip off. Which ones remain after seeing yourself through God’s eyes? Which ones truly embrace who you are and free you to go after this life without anything holding you down? Have you asked God recently who He says you are? It doesn’t have to be a common answer. I believe He’ll give you a memory or a word that means something to just you and Him and that is the title to fully embrace right now.
It’s time to take your pillow and your favorite cassette tape and sit back and be that Co-Pilot like there would never be another Co-Pilot again. It’s time to sing at the top of your lungs unapologetically and trust the one who gave you that name; trust that this was the name you were created for and that together, in your full God-given identity, you can truly do anything.