Who Are You? Issue 17 Hey Ladies Column
I’d like for you to take a minute and make a list of ways you’ve been labeled. Think of labels you put on yourself, labels others put on you, good labels, bad labels. I’ll give you some examples. Negative labels you put on yourself or others put on you might include: stupid, failure, victim, dangerous, dirty, mean, selfish, ugly, fat, unloveable, weak, broken, liar, enemy, etc. Some examples of positive labels we or others may put on ourselves: student, mom, daughter, sister, girl- friend, friend, smart, pretty, athletic, tough, strong, courageous, kind, overcomer, loyal, etc.
Here’s the problem with labels – each label comes with a set of expectations or assumptions. For instance, if I believe I am “stupid” the expectation is that I will fail at my school work no matter how hard I try, so I stop trying. Or, let’s say others label me as being a great athlete because I’ve always been awesome at sports. Well, now I feel more pressure because those people expect me to perform well – and to continue to play even if I don’t want to anymore. I might develop unhealthy workout habits to maintain my athletic reputation. If I have a label of being “easy,” then boys will treat me like I am just a body and not as a person. I begin to think that if I don’t fulfill their expectations then they won’t like me and I will never have a boyfriend. Do you see? Both good and bad labels come with expectations.
When you add up all of the labels in your own life and all of those expectations – isn’t that overwhelming?
It IS overwhelming and it causes 3 main issues.
Three Main Issues
1. We tend to cling to the labels we excel in that make a good impression and they become our primary identity to the world. Like an athlete, being tough, or being pretty.
2. We also tend to cling to the worst labels and use them as a crutch or an excuse for disobedience to God. If I have a background of abuse, I may constantly think about that and feel like a victim – then I feel justified in taking painkillers to “numb the pain” of the memories, etc. Or if the label is that I’m a liar, I cling to that and say to myself, well – no one will ever trust me now, so I will just be on my own and not try to get close to anyone. If they think I’m a liar, then I’ll just be one – it’s their fault.
3. We start to judge other people – especially other girls – more harshly to make ourselves feel better. However, this only leads to us judging ourselves more harshly by comparing ourselves to other girls and imagining what they may be saying about us! It’s a vicious cycle.
But check this out; Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We don’t need labels. We need an identity. You can label salt anything you want but the truth is that it is salt, and when you taste it you will know. The same is true with you. These labels are NOT who we are. We have an identity. Our true identity is found in Jesus. Who does that verse say we are? HIS workmanship. Whether you believe in him or not the truth remains the same. You are HIS creation. Do you know who else the Bible says you are if you’ve given your life to your creator?
1. His Daughter. “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” - 2 Corinthians 6:18
2. His Bride.“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.” - Hosea 2:19
3. A New Creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17
If this is our true identity then we only need to focus on HIS expectations of us and we can throw all the others away because they don’t matter. So what are his expectations?
1. To keep Him first in your heart by spending time with Him often by reading the Bible, praying, and talking with Him throughout the day.
2. To be obedient to what He teaches us through the Bible without making excuses.
3. To LOVE and forgive others and share Jesus with others.
When we do THESE three things, three benefits will come from it.
Benefits of God’s Will
1. All other responsibilities and tasks will flow naturally out of doing the above three things. We will learn to live day by day and have less anxiety about our own or others’ expectations because our perspective will change. We only need to consider if it will please God. And guess what, if we are trying it DOES please him, even if we mess up – He sees our heart, our desire, not just how we perform.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” - Matthew 6:34
2. We will recognize the bad labels as what they really are! We will see them as either sin that we need to overcome through prayer and obedience to Christ or as lies from Satan that we need to rebuke. We will begin to take our thoughts captive and cast them out of our minds and replace them with the truth of who we are in Christ.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 10:5
3. If one of our “positive” labels is removed (i.e. beauty, girl- friend, athlete) we are not left feeling worthless. We will be able to move on to the next thing God has for us, trusting Him to comfort us and to use us for good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
It doesn’t matter what we wear, how tough we are, how many guys like us, who we’ve rolled with, how much money we have, whether we are single or in a relationship, whether we are more feminine or more tomboyish, whether we are hyper or laid back, clean or messy, how educated we are... as long as we are all obedient to Jesus from here on out.
God doesn’t want us to all look and act the same way. That’s why He created us differently. Your background doesn’t disqualify you from being used by God.
God Will Use You
1. He made an captive orphan into a Queen that saved all the Jewish people from death. (Esther)
2. He made a woman prophet into a warrior. (Judges 4 & 5)
3. He made a prostitute into a protector of Israel and she became a direct ancestor of JESUS. (Joshua 2)
So, sisters, let’s be set free from all those expectations and let’s set others free from our harsh judgments. Let’s live one day at a time with our only expectation being to know and love Him, obey Him, love others, and tell others about Him.
If you wrote down any labels at the beginning of this column, I want you to wad them up and throw them away.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
- Galatians 5:1