There was no denying it. The white paint coating the underside of my vehicle was all the evidence needed. Just a few days prior, I had found myself behind a truck putting down fresh paint on the road. With several cars between me and the truck, it was difficult to see which lines were being repainted, but based on the brightness of the middle, yellow lines, I assumed that’s where the fresh paint was. Apparently, I assumed wrong. As I examined the unexpected, new paint job on my vehicle, the thoughts began to swirl.
“How in the world did you manage to drive through wet paint?”
“Didn’t you know what that would do to your vehicle?”
“Why didn’t you pay closer attention?”
Then, those thoughts took a different, deeper turn.
“You are such a bad driver.”
“You don’t take good care of your vehicle.”
“You are such a distracted mess.”
A bad driver. Irresponsible. A distracted mess. Those negative thoughts that filled my mind as I examined the damage to my car quickly turned into something that felt more personal, more condemning. Those thoughts . . . turned into labels.
Labels are defined as words or phrases that identify or describe something or someone. We use labels all the time to help us categorize and identify things within our world. For example, when I go to the store and buy a package that is labeled cereal, cereal is exactly what I anticipate finding when I open it. I don’t take the box home wondering if I have just bought a box of cookies or, heaven forbid, a box of mushrooms. That would be a bad day. No, the label helps me identify the item I am purchasing. This is just one example of how labels can be extremely helpful for us as we try to make sense of this world.
Far too often, others place labels upon us or we place labels upon ourselves that attempt to categorize us in one way or another. These labels are often negative in their connotation and ones that we were never designed to wear. Labels like:
Just like my mother
What labels have been placed upon you? How do those labels make you feel?
One of the biggest problems with these negative labels is that over time, we begin to accept them as our truth. When something is repeated to us often enough, we begin to believe it don’t we? And once it becomes our truth, we believe that we can never break free from it. In her book, Unglued, Lysa Terkeurst says,
“Some prisons don’t require bars to keep people locked inside. All it takes is their perception that they belong there. A soul who believes she can’t leave . . . doesn’t.”
“All it takes is the perception that they belong there.” Have you ever been there? Have you ever looked at the labels you wear and told yourself that you will never change? Have you ever told yourself that perhaps you deserve that label? Have you ever told yourself that you will forever be defined by that label placed upon you?
Last time, we talked about how we are in a battle for our minds. We talked about how it is important to take every thought that enters our mind captive and filter it through the truth we find in His Word. This applies to labels as well. Every label that is placed upon us needs to be identified, and then held up and examined against the truth we find in God’s Word. We need to ask ourselves if the labels we carry are based on what God says is true or if they are based on a lie that Satan would have us believe.
Beloved, God’s Word says this about you.
You are Known
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.”
Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)
“O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.”
Psalm 139:1-6 (VOICE)
You are fully Loved
“I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’”
Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.”
1 John 3:1 (VOICE)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
You are His Masterpiece created exactly as He intended
“For we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life.”
Ephesians 2:10 (ISV)
That is the truth of who you are.
The labels you carry . . . they don’t define you.
The labels you carry . . . they do not speak to the truth of who you are.
A number of years ago, I walked through a very dark season when I placed label upon label upon label on myself. It got to the point that when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the woman before me. I didn’t recognize her, and I didn’t know how to break free from her. But, God did. I reached out and asked Him to help me tear off the labels I had hidden behind for so long. Now, I’ll be honest with you. It was terrifying. It was uncomfortable. It was downright painful at times. I questioned whether others would like the true me. I questioned whether I would like the true me. I questioned whether the process of removing the labels was worth it. Know what I learned? It was. It was worth it. When I invited God in to do His work, to chisel away the parts of me that weren’t true to who He created me to be, He set me free. I no longer felt imprisoned by the labels I had hidden behind for so long.
The same can be true for you. Invite God in. Let Him do the hard work within you. Step into the beautiful, amazing woman He created you to be.
Allen, Jennie. Get Out of Your Head. Waterbrook. 2020.
Terkeurst, Lysa. (2012). Unglued Making Wise Choices In The Midst Of Raw Emotions, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.