Month: August 2020


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.

Negative labels

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.

Positive 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

Abandon shame, live free.

Shame and guilt are words that we use to mean the same thing. But they are vastly different, and they are emotions which have quite different outcomes.  One is helpful and leads to an improved life and the other is destructive, breaks relationships and causes pain.

When I first became a Christian, I understood the concept of forgiveness, that through Jesus I was totally forgiven. But even though I knew I was forgiven I was very much still lost in the shame of my past.

In my past, as an alcoholic and as a broken girl, I had done many terrible things and hurt many people. Although there was guilt associated with those behaviours, I had morphed my guilt into shame and self-hatred.

Guilt is a normal and helpful feeling when we have done something wrong.  Guilt is the prod from our conscience telling us to correct our error and take action to repair a situation.  Guilt is related to a specific behaviour or situation, i.e. ‘I did something wrong’

Shame however is a negative judgement about yourself because of that behaviour, i.e. ‘I AM wrong because I did that’.  Shame made me feel powerless and worthless.  As a result, I withdrew from people, never let my walls down, was mistrusting of people’s motives and felt in danger of being exposed as a faulty. I felt inadequate and ‘wrong’.

Living with shame is living as a captive, unable to be free or to live life as God intended for us.  God does not want us living in shame. Jesus came to set the captive free and allow us to live unashamed and bold. Guilt can give us control and responsibility over our behaviour, but shame is passive and helpless. 

Jesus met with many people on the margins of society. He never was ashamed of them nor did he shamed them, but through love and truth, he showed them their guilt and empowered them to change.  In Romans 10:11 we are promised that anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.

Shame makes us want to hide in darkness, but Jesus is the light and there is no shame in the light. To conquer my shame, I stopped hiding and stepped into the light.  I challenged the inner voice in my mind and separated the feelings of guilt and the shame-based self-criticism. 

I learnt to forgive myself and let go of my past.  Shame holds on to every mistake or wrongdoing as proof of worthlessness, but the grace of God is forgiveness and mercy, there is no need to hold on anymore. Learn to forgive yourself.  Do not reject the gift of forgiveness, if God can forgive you, YOU can forgive you. 

Make a stand against shame, it has no place in a Christians life. It will only hold you down and prevent you moving forward. Jesus has broken shame and its hold over you, so let it go.

“SHAME says because I am flawed, I am unacceptable BUT GRACE says though I am flawed, I am CHERISHED!”


What do you see in the mirror?

On my dressing table I have a small standalone mirror. It has lights around the edges and one side is a normal mirror and the other side is a magnifying mirror.  The normal side is good, the lights make it easier to put on my makeup but if by mistake I flip it over and catch a glimpse at my magnified image, it is shocking. Every bump, spot or wrinkle is enlarged and amplified. When I first discovered the magnified side of the mirror, I started obsessing about all my ‘flaws’ on my face and wondering how to fix them.  Until I realised that no one ever looks at my face that closely or with a magnifying glass and those ‘flaws’ were nothing more than normal skin and normal aging.  The magnification gave me an altered reality. It is true in life as well, what we focus on and magnify in our minds can become more significant to us whether it is real or not. 

When you look in the mirror or think about your character and who you are as a person, do you focus only on your faults and what needs to be ‘fixed’ or can you see your beauty and all the amazing qualities you have.

A mirror can only reflect what is standing in front of it. We interpret the image and make conclusions and judgements about what we see.  A mirror does not say you are ugly or worthless, you tell yourself that.  Neither does the mirror tell you that you are acceptable and confident; your personality will reflect that inner belief.

Holding up a magnifying glass can make you see flaws that are not even there or make you obsess and have an unhealthy fixation on yourself.  Spending too much time and energy focused on yourself and judging yourself harshly is unproductive and destroys self-esteem. It leads you away from freedom and from being who God created you to be and away from your purpose.  Rather learn to see yourself as God sees you, a work in progress but loved and accepted.

“Every time you look in the mirror remember that God created you and that everything He creates is beautiful and good!”

Joyce Meyer

Until next week…

Remember in the ‘old’ days when you watched your favourite TV program and then had to wait a whole week for the next episode, it was torture.  But the anticipation and the discussions and dissection of the episode with friends was the highlight of the week and when the following week rolled around, it was as exciting as Christmas morning as the familiar theme song played once again.

The introduction of ‘on demand’ entertainment has changed all this.  I am not opposed to streaming at all, in fact I am a big fan and love the access to such a huge and wide range of options but when I explain to my kids about the ‘old’ days of TV and watching one episode per week they look back at me blankly and  I wonder if they are missing out on a valuable experience.

With such a over indulgent culture when entertainment is endless, we have food delivered to the door and at a click of the mouse we can order just about anything and it will arrive in the few days are we becoming immune to the blessing of waiting.

When we think about waiting and patience it is often in terms of struggle or pain or disappointment.  We do not want to wait for the things we want or need, we want action, we want results. However, we forget about the other side of waiting, the excitement building, anticipation, suspense, expectancy, hope, butterflies in your stomach. Even waiting can be a wonderful experience when looked at with different eyes.

The Bible is filled with people waiting. Abraham waited for a child, Jacob waited for Rachel, Moses waited in the wilderness, David waited to be King, the Disciples waited for the Holy Spirit and even Jesus waited for the right time to start his mission. So why do we get so impatient and think we should not have to wait too?

Waiting is a fact of life; we all experience it.  In your future you will have to wait, you will wait for things to happen, for other people, for traffic and appointments, for God to answer prayers and for time to pass.  But we all get a choice on how we spend that waiting time. Use your waiting time to be joyful, to be excited about what comes next, to be a blessing to others who might be waiting with you, to connect with God for strength and wisdom when it gets tough, appreciate the present moment and be grateful. 

“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” Joyce Meyer