Isaiah 43:1 (NLT) But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
Labels are everywhere, labels on clothing can suggest quality or worth, labels reflect the creator of the thing or the brand name. There are labels that place a great value on something and other labels that place a low value on the same type of item. The quality may not even be that much different, but someone decided to put more value on one label/brand than another. Maybe the maker was famous, or was the first to create something new, and the others are the copycats. Whatever the case may be, someone made the decision that something was better than the other thing, others followed suit and because of the desire to have the “name brand” were willing to place the value higher on that item as well.
Unfortunately we as the human race also put labels on each other and a lot of them are unkind and hurtful. Some of these labels can make someone seem inferior, less than, worthless, for a myriad of reasons. A lot of people will see these labels and treat that person accordingly. Most of the time these labels are given to them through no fault of their own. Maybe they were born “on the wrong side of the tracks”, in a country that is war torn, or born into poverty. Maybe they were born with a disadvantage, whether mental or physical, maybe they had a rough life with unspeakable violent acts done to them, and they label themselves as damaged. Whatever the reasons for the damaging label, it is wrong, it is evil, it is not who they are, it is not who you are. As human beings we can be so cruel to each other, only thinking of how we can get ahead, not really caring enough to look back and see the trail of hurt that is in our wake. I believe we are all guilty of labeling others and/or labeling ourselves, whether that is by naming the label on someone, or just going along with the crowd and viewing that person through the lens of that label. whatever the reason it is evil and cruel, and not at all what God says.
Some labels that we give others gives that person more value than they deserve, usually because they are famous in some way, we turn them into an idol. We want to be just like them, have the things they have, do the things that they do, be famous like they are, and are willing to do a lot to get that fame. We want to be carbon copies of our idols so that we can have a portion of the value that they have. As copies we will never reach their label status. When people get these highly valuable labels, they think that they are entitled to their value, to the worship, to the privilege of their position in life. These pedestals that they stand on are so high that when the fall, they crash and are completely destroyed, and then they are abandoned by those who worshipped them. Labels given to contain someone into a specific box are wrong, they are cages, they are traps.
I have lived within human labels, some of them cruel. As a kid I was told I was ugly, a suck, shy and stupid, these were all given to me by the names that other kids called me. I was an outcast. I was definitely not in the “in crowd”. I could see in, I wanted to be like them, but could find no way to shake the labels that I had and gain the ones that the popular kids had. They didn’t even look in my direction unless someone was making fun of me or pointing out my wrongness. I kept these labels on for most of my life, some of them are still stuck although faded and torn off. There is still some of it stuck on and no matter how much I try, I cannot get it completely off of my life. Some of my most memorable labels are ones that had to do with my image, some of the names were fish face, fish lips, semi-head (my face looked like a semi hit it), flat face. I did nothing to deserve these names, these labels, but they stuck with me my whole life. These names morphed into the label ugly (this is the label that I gave to myself). I lived within it, everything I heard about myself, everything I felt about myself, everything I did I put through this filter, and I believed in the label. Even if someone was being complimentary, kind and loving, I believed my label and I didn’t trust anything that denied that. This label caused me to hide myself from the world and I was labeled shy, and because I was already hurting, it didn’t take much to cause more pain, and I would cry. The label of suck came at the hands of a junior high school teacher, and the kids around me adopted it. I struggled in school and so I thought I was stupid. As I grew up, all these names became engrained into my very core, they became who I was, or at least in my own mind. Anyone who said otherwise to me, was just feeling sorry for me, and so I would reject it and them, I stayed at a distance, just incase they discovered who I “really was”, and rejected me. My whole life I desired to be brave, to be popular, to be valued by my peers, and I never really felt like I could attain that. I lived caged, lived hidden, lived smaller than life. I was fearful of just about everything, I was afraid of the what ifs. What if I made the wrong choice, did the wrong thing, said the wrong thing, what if people discovered how worthless I really was? I lived avoiding real life, I would not allow myself to fail, and so I didn’t do anything I wasn’t sure that I could do successfully. If there was a risk of failure, I avoided it. I lived a small life and it was hard to live in it. I killed who I really was, the person I was created to be. I couldn’t fly, I couldn’t break free, I couldn’t live apart from the labels.
My life looked pretty normal, I got married, had kids, had a house, a vehicle, everything someone could need. Underneath my skin, it was nowhere near normal or good. The way I treated myself was cruel, mean spirited, downright disgusting. I allowed others to hurt me and I accepted it as right and normal. I over exaggerated other’s bad opinion of me, or words and emotions towards me. I was a mess. I was a mess that didn’t know how to break free from my small life, or clean up the mess I was in. I tried, but everytime I tried it seemed overwhelming and I quit, or I made it worse and became an emotional wreck. I tried to do this all by myself, not really letting others to enter into the mess with me. I avoided letting people close, just in case they saw what was really going on. Unfortunately I avoided God’s help as well. I didn’t want Him to see it or admit that I was needing His help. I didn’t want to be rejected because of my ineptitude.
Funny thing is that by avoiding God’s help this cleaning my life up was impossible. I had to get to the point of desperation to give up this stubbornness and accept reality. At the point of God’s holy intervention, I was pretty dead and cold inside, full of self loathing, so scared of pretty much everything. Panic attacks seemed to be almost constant. Listening to the labels of the world and believing them destroyed the woman that God made me and the plans He had for me. All that I believed told me I was severely lacking, that there was no way that I could ever measure up and contribute anything valuable to this world. I even tried desperately to be a perfect mother in hopes of giving them a chance of a healthy appreciation of themselves. I wanted them to like themselves at the very least. I wanted then to realize their value, that they had a lot to offer the world. Unfortunately, daughters get their view of themselves by watching how their mom views herself. My oldest daughters have struggles with finding their own value. My youngest has a healthier view of herself, not perfect. but so much better. God’s intervention in my life happened when she was young, about 6 years old, she had less time by that time to believe the lies that she was less than. I was healing by that time, and starting to appreciate the woman that God made me.
God in His mighty power broke through my defences and lies that surrounded me. His shocking revelation of His opinion of me was life changing. I saw myself through His eyes and was overwhelmed by what He saw. To top it all off, He blessed me with a new name, a new God given label, Beautiful. The God who created all the beauty that I saw called me Beautiful, WHAT?? What could I say to that? How could I argue, or would the arguments hold any weight? There was no way to refute His opinion of me, my own opinion paled in the light of His truth. He called me Beautiful and that is what I was, period! I couldn’t argue, who was I to question God, my creator? I had no right. I knew by that time, that God was sovereign, that He was above everything and everyone. His thoughts were far better and higher than I could attain. So all I could do was stand within His pronouncement of who I was, I stood in His radiant light. I was enveloped with a love too great to understand. The rest of that weekend, I couldn’t stop shaking, all around me after that for months, people I barely knew told me that I was beautiful. Cam found that His wife was changed, my countenance was radically different. I cannot explain what went on, I don’t have the words to give an accurate description. I don’t think there is enough words given to us to tell about God and the ways He loves us.
After that I had some new labels to live within, Beautiful, daughter, beloved, joy, chosen, warrior princess, Bride of Christ to name a few. These are names of belonging, of love, these names are labels of value, they are the truth about you as a Child of God. These are not labels that contain you, but labels that free you to be who you are, they let you live in the light, not cower in the dark. Labels that the world and those around you hold no weight against, unless they align with the ones that are spoken over you by your Creator. Live within these God labels and you will find joy, peace, love and life.
Worldly labels can be life sucking, but God labels give incredible life. You have a choice to make, which labels will you live within? I hope you choose the truth, God’s truth, it is a far better way to live. It is the way we were mean’t to live. They are the ones you are mean’t to have. Choose the truth, if you feel like you can’t make a better choice, go to someone you know who cares about you and tell them, ask them to help you when it is too hard to do on your own. If you don’t have someone you can trust like that, there are many counselors that can help you learn to shut out the noise of your unhealthy labels, and you may have to avoid those who might be sticking them on you, at least until you are strong enough to stand against those wrong labels. I still have the remnants of those old labels that try to make me believe their lies, but I know the truth now and I know to whom I need to go to when I need to remember again who I really am, God’s arms are always open when I run to Him so that I can remember who He says I am. The longer I know this, the easier it is to go to God when I struggle with old labels. I am far happier now in the new than I ever was in the old.
God gave you a name, and He calls you by that name, God’s name for you is always good, believe it with all your heart. Ask Him what your real name is, He will tell you. And when He tells you, cling to it, let it become a part of you, trust The One who made you, and really live.