No, that’s not quite it.
Hmmmm - not that either.
Ruffled. Maybe that’s more like it.
I love words. They are powerful. But sometimes they can be tricky.
I wish I could find the right words to match the muddled, confused soup that was ‘my feelings’ as I stared at the label on the application.
There it was, typed neatly under the box titled ‘Occupation’: housewife.
For me, as a visual person, words in writing carry an extra punch. Compared to their audible counterparts, they embed themselves a little deeper in my mind.
The soup stirred. Prideful flesh was aroused.
I glanced at my husband. I wondered if he could sense it… could see my discomfort.
I bit my tongue… wrestled with the impulse to qualify this label… to explain what else I was doing… to justify why it was enough.
I was determined to win this latest battle in the long, drawn out war on my worth.
I remained calm, said nothing and pushed my pride back down, but as I left the bank and, in the days following, the hard truth sank in – I have a far way to go yet.
You see there are other labels… labels that make my pride jump right up and pay attention.
And often, with those labels, I don’t squash him down, smug as he is. I allow him to stand tall and strut his stuff.
Even now, I am resisting the urge to tell you what those other ‘finer sounding’ labels are.
It’s like I said, I have a long way to go.
My sense of worth cannot be grounded in my pride’s reaction. One minute it’s up, and I’m smiling, the next it’s down, and I’m frowning. It’s like I’m on a see-saw, and I am getting giddy from the ride.
Yet, I’m thankful for this roller-coaster, especially for the lows. I’m thankful that labels that challenge my sense of worth cause me to stop, examine my heart, and face the truth.
Would you join me as I dig a little deeper? Perhaps we can do this together.
Stop and examine my heart:
Why do labels hold such power over me? Why are they so intrinsically linked to my worth… to my usefulness or importance?
Why do some labels cause me to bristle while others cause me to strut?
Whose labels affect me the most? And why?
There are labels that I pin on myself. Some are pleasant, others not so much.
There are the labels that others offer me. These can be weighty. But I get to choose which ones I wear. The choosing is not easy but it's a snap when compared to living out my choices.
And then, there are the labels that God uses to describe me. God – the same One who made me – who knows all about me. Perhaps, I should choose His.
But, whose labels do I really attach to my heart?
Now, it's time for the results of my self-examination. How's yours coming?
Face the truth:
Labels hold power over me because in my mind they reflect my doing… my doing reflects my performance… my performance reflects my worth in the world’s eyes… okay, to be honest… sometimes, even in my eyes.
And don’t we all long to be worthy? To be significant? Important? Not passed over?
‘If I’m not doing enough, I’m not enough’ - my pride chides me as he wrangles to pick the best labels.
So, we rack up the labels… the prettier sounding the better… the longer the list the sweeter. We write in, erase, check again, to get it right. Labels define us.
In those moments, when I find myself caught once again in a battle for my worth, I’m reminded that I’ve chosen my labels, others’ labels instead of God’s.
‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ 1 John 3:1a
Child of God
The only label that truly defines me - not based on what I’ve done, what I am doing or what I can do, but wholly on what my God has done to draw me close.
I’m reminded that it’s all about Him, not me... not me in my weakness, nor me in my might.
I’m reminded to shift my focus to my God, His love, His death in my place, His indwelling presence that guides me.
And I’m reminded to wear this label proudly, confidently, and thankfully because He is worthy.
'Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.' Psalm 145:3
Again, not quite the right word. But it’s a start.
In this long, drawn out war for my worth, I am so thankful for the truth that brings me victory.
What about you?
Do labels hold more power over you than you would like to admit?
Have you chosen labels for others that affect how you treat them?
God's word is filled with many labels for His children.
Which one is your favorite?
Which one is your favorite?
Child of God… three ‘small’ words… one powerful label.
Let those words sink deep into your heart today…
ponder them… chew on them… live them out.
Grace to you,