We read ‘em, we use ‘em, we stick ‘em on people.
Labels are useful for identification, and they aren’t always a bad thing, even when it comes to people. For instance, in about 40 labels, I can tell you a huge amount about my life up until this point. See if you can follow my testimony simply by reading these labels:
Born. Sister. Extrovert. Catholic. Straight A Student. Teenager. Singer. Actor. Leader. College Student. Waiter. Overachiever. Choreographer. New Ager. Girlfriend. OCD. Panic Attacks. Taoist. Martial Artist. Touring Actor. Liberal. Hindu. Waiter. Girlfriend again. Depressed. Seattleite. Vegan. Tree Hugger. Lonely. Christian. Praise and Worship Leader. Wife. Pastor. Playwright. Television Producer. Director. Conservative. Mother. Ghostwriter. Anti-Trafficking Activist. Novelist. Screenwriter. Teacher. Blogger.
As you read this list, you can tell I am fully committed to living a diversified life. *LOL* Gotta say, it’s kind of bizarre to see them all stacked up in a line like that.
Look how much was revealed about me, using only labels.
But wait…stop for a second. How much did you really learn about me? Sure, you found out about my journey, and you can read in between the lines to assume some of my personal struggles, but what have you really learned about ME? About who I truly am? My character? My values? What I hold dear?
You see, even as you read those labels, you were making assumptions about me…based on your personal point of view. For instance, some of you read “Liberal” and disliked that, while others of you cheered…but then were disappointed when later I switched to “Conservative.” Some of you read “Vegan” and respected that, while others thought, “That just means more burgers for me.” Some of you read the variety of my journey and thought, “Dang, my life is boring,” while others thought, “Wow, this chick is flaky!”
On one hand, labels can help us identify important aspects of each other, but on the other, they can limit us, keep us living in the past, or hinder our relationships with each other. They can even prevent us from experiencing our true destiny.
One of the best examples of how labels can keep us at our worst, is the story of Gideon in Judges 6-8. It would be worth your while for you to Google it (or, you could follow the ancient path and read it from an actual paper-bound Bible). We find a terrified Gideon threshing wheat inside a wine press, which in the harvest heat of the Middle East, is a ridiculously torturous way to thresh wheat. But his fear of the enemy raiding his harvest and his very means of survival, drives him to this insanity.
You see, he has labeled himself as the biggest loser son from the even bigger loser family from the most ginormous loser-of-a-tribe in Israel. Weakest. Poorest. Helpless. Victim. He’s certain of it. And then...(Cue: Inspirational Orchestra)... an angel comes and delivers a remarkable message. To this sweaty, stinky, weakling, he declares, “God is with you, you mighty warrior!”
Gideon doesn’t skip a beat in his pity party (Cue: Dopey Music) as he immediately starts to argue with this heavenly creature (who by the way, is still dripping with the presence of God), that he’s got the wrong loser. His labels blinded and deafened him to the point he could not even receive a message that came straight from the mouth of the Almighty God! Thank goodness, the angel didn’t give up on this hot mess, but instead continued to lead and encourage Gideon until slowly, but surely, he began to believe God’s labels instead of his own labels.
What labels are stuck on you? What labels are propelling you forward in your God-sized destiny, and what labels are caging you in to a life of mediocrity? What labels are you holding on to so tightly that even if a messenger from God visited you with new and improved truths, you would argue against their validity??
The Fearless 365 Week Twelve Challenge: Remove ANY Label that Holds You Back. ANY label that makes you feel small, not enough, weak, or scared is not true. God’s thoughts and plans for you are GOOD and filled with HOPE for a prosperous future…in every single area of your life. Sure, there are facts that we might be able to argue, but God’s TRUTH squashes like bug any fact that dares to try and stand against it.
This week, meditate on THESE labels: Extravagantly Loved by God. Abundantly Able. Child of God. Empowered by Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit. Winner. Fearless. Filled with Peace. Powerful. Creative. Healed. FREE!