Drop the labels and know who you really are.
We love to organise things into categories and put labels on them. It is our human nature, so we can more readily process information, make fast judgements, and communicate with each other. The problem with putting labels on people is not the process of labelling itself, it is the connotation or the implication of the label which is the problem. Labels are a mine field and can be destructive or empowering when applied correctly and honoured honestly.
Today I want to examine 3 types of labels we use commonly. Firstly, negative labels we use on ourselves and we use to hurt or diminish others. Secondly positive labels, which might be true and might feel good, but do not bring us closer to our true identity or closer to God and finally, the labels God gives us, that give us a deeper understanding of our purpose and reveals more about the nature of God.
There are many labels we pick up through life, many of them given to us when we are children that stick into adulthood. Bossy, chatterbox, messy, clumsy, chubby, immature, moody, ugly, nerd, loser, stupid, loner, teachers pet or freak, the list could go on and on. Then as we age, we add our own interpretations and self-critical labels – selfish, divorced, lazy, useless, not good enough, fat, aggressive, angry, failure, needy, unlovable. Then society puts its own labels and judgements on us based on our race, gender, financial status, career, education, attractiveness, body shape and religion.
You can see it is a complicated mess. Negative labels do not help you know yourself more or bring you any closer to happiness, they keep you from your destiny and overtime there is the danger that the negative labels become so ingrained that we think they are true. It is time to shake off those labels.
Common self help will tell you, to fix the problem of labelling you exchange your negative labels to positive labels. You can use labels like happy, beautiful, excited, powerful, awesome, healthy, wealthy, successful, intelligent, confident, independent.
These labels on the surface seem better than the negative labels and they will make you feel good. They might be true about you and empowering, but as Christians I think it is important that we do not use these labels alone to find our identity or our confidence. We need to be careful as there is a danger that positive labels are self-serving and not stable. There will be times when you are not happy or healthy or confident and if your security and self-esteem is tied up with that label your very identity can be shaken. I used to find my confidence and personal worth in the label of ‘productive’ but there came a time when I had a medical issue that meant I could not work for several months. It hit me hard as I felt worthless, useless and of no value as I could not be ‘productive’. Although productive seemed like a positive label it shattered me when my life changed, and I could not be productive. Who was I if I was not productive?
Positive labels can be used to encourage and inspire and drive us, but we should not rely on them for our identity or value or confidence.
The labels of God
God created you, He knows you more intimately than you know yourself. He knows your future, your purpose, your strengths, and weaknesses. There is no one better suited to tell you what your labels are. This is what God labels you as..
Forgiven (Colossians 2:13-14)
Conqueror (Romans 8:37)
Capable (Philippians 4:13)
Valuable (1 Corinthians 6:20)
LOVED (Colossians 3:12)
Chosen (Ephesians 1:4)
Strong (Philippians 4:13)
A Masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
A Child of God (John 1:12)
The labels God put on us, give us security, identity, esteem, freedom and purpose. They are consistent, never changing, not dependant on our performance and come from love. These are the labels we can embrace and cling to, these labels are not self-made or created by society but come from the Father and His love for us.
“The enemy will try to label you with everything you’ve done wrong. But God labels you forgiven, redeemed & restored”.Joel Osteen