What Labels Have You Owned?

SaraiLabelShe was beautiful, most likely came from a wealthy family, and would one day become the mother of an entire nation. The matriarch of a faith that would completely change the world, revealing God’s plan of redemption and ultimately, leading to the fulfillment of prophesies given since the beginning of time.

But when we meet her in Genesis 11, one label defines her: barren. At a time and in a culture when barrenness was a huge deal. Children were seen as a blessing, a sign of favor, and for these women who were often easily discarded, a promise of stability.

Infertility in any culture can lead to an incredible emptiness and sorrow, but in her day and age, it was downright shameful. In the ancient Middle East, most women didn’t work. They weren’t scholars, didn’t impress others with their deep and lofty thoughts on politics. Nope. They were valued for one thing–their ability to produce an heir.

In the land in which Sarai lived, failure to do so was considered grounds for divorce.

Can you imagine her shame? Despite her wealth and beauty, I envision her walking through the streets of Ur with her head bowed and her heart heavy. Watching the other women with swollen bellies, or infants held to their breast. Listening to mothers talk about how strong and capable their sons are.

Feeling completely isolated and alone. Held in bondage by this one label thrust on her by her peers: barren.

But God saw her differently. To Him, she was His princess, which is what her name (both versions) means. And He’d spend the next six chapters helping her live like His princess, to wear with pride and conviction the label He Himself gave her.

We all have labels: Unwanted. Unlovable. Failure. Tainted.Redeemedpic

Those labels, when latched on to, hinder our walk with Christ. Some, like Sarai’s, are negative. Hurtful, thrust upon us by others, relentlessly whispering to our wounded hearts, “You’re not good enough.” If not diligently fought against, those labels can cling to us long after we’ve been redeemed. And they begin to influence our actions and reactions.

But we, like Sarai, are princesses (or princes, fellas), daughters of the King! Let’s live like the royalty we are. No one can tag a label on to us unless we let them.

Not even us, ourselves.

Ah, so now we’ve come to the root of. Those labels wouldn’t stick unless we believed them–owned them. So how do we resist them? How do we learn to walk like the royalty we, redeemed and cherished children of Christ, are?

We replace our distorted view with truth and focus on who we are in Christ. That’s the only label we should cling to. That’s the only label we should nurture and live out.

Starting next week, a group of Facebook friends and I are going to follow Sarai/Sarah’s journey, inviting God to lead us on a similar trek–that of embracing and living in our true, defining label–daughters of the King. And I invite you to join us.

Speaking of labels, Tuesday I visited Internet Cafe Devotions to talk about those insidious lies we allow to weasel their way into our hearts, wearing us down and keeping us from the incredible joy available through Christ in an article entitled The Battle You Must Win. Read it HERE.

Let’s talk about this. We all, every one of us, have labels we carry around, some we’ve held on to so long, we’ve forgotten they’re even there. The only way, I believe, to shuck those self-defeating labels is to fill our hearts and minds with truth. This week, prayerfully ask God to show you what lies you’ve allowed yourself to hold on to. Ask Him to show you how He sees you, then ask Him to help you view yourself in the same light.

LivingbyGracepicIs there a certain label that jumped out at you when you read today’s post? Has God perhaps already helped you tear off a label from your past? If so, what was it, and how did God help you toss it? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

Because They’re Watching

Last Friday our daughter went to her first school dance, although it was more like a supervised party then anything else. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep the boys from “stalking” her, as she put it. One of the boys in particular, a lad who sits at her table during lunch, shadowed her the entire night. And when that didn’t work, he started sending out reinforcements. First, he had a friend approach our daughter on his behalf. Eventually, he got creative and sought the help of a female. Our daughter was a bit shocked to find some strange girl pulling on her arms, trying to get her to dance with a boy she’d never really met.

It was very comical and reassuring to hear her talk about it later that night. My husband was at a retreat, so it was just her and I. I cherish those just-the-girls-nights. As usual, we snuggled on the master bed, books in hand, soft music playing in the background. Although the books are more ice-breakers or conversation  starters than anything else. Try asking a teenager to “talk”. Not gonna happen. Ask them if they’d like to bring their book and join you while you read yours and you’ve actually got a shot. There’s something about getting two women in one room. It isn’t long before the jaws start flapping and giggles fill the air.

So here we were nestled against a mountain of pillows and my daughter starts to talk about the dance. And this boy.

“He kind of freaked me out. I mean, I really don’t know him.”

“How does he know you? Have you ever seen him before?”

“Yeah, he sits at our table during lunch. But I’ve never talked to him or anything. I don’t even know his name. And I mean, seriously, if he doesn’t know me, that means he only likes me for my looks. That’s really not the kind of person I’d like to marry.”

(Woah! Slow down. Oh, yeah, she’s just processing. Deep breath. Deep breath. Listen, mom. Just close your mouth and listen.)

Then she went on to tell me about her husbandly requirements. Meeting a man who truly knew her, and loved her for her, was top on her list. And as I listened to her plot out her future, I must admit, I was surprised. I mean, we’ve talked about marriage, and how God has a husband planned just for her, but I’ve never given her a list of requirements. Nor have I ever thought to ask her to do the same. And yet, as she watched her Daddy shower me with love, she began to form a list.

Last Christmas my husband and daughter emerged from the back bedroom all giggly and told me they were going to be gone for a few hours. But they couldn’t tell me what they were doing or where they were going. Because my husband does this every birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day or Anniversary, I knew they were gonna do some Daddy-daughter shopping. My daughter could hardly contain herself. It was like she and Daddy had this amazing secret. And they were about to make a day of it. Cruising the malls, jabbering about what Mommy would like best, buying it together.

It’s been a wonderful time of bonding for the two of them and an incredible teaching moment. Every time my husband involves our daughter in these things, he’s raising the bar, one that only God’s best will be able to reach. And it’s accomplished three things. First, it’s negated the boy-crazy need for affection I see in so many young ladies today. Second, it’s helped our daughter see qualities she’d like in a future husband. Third, it’s bonded the three of our hearts together and created an atmosphere of love in our home.

Wives, do you have daughters? Why not include them as you bless your husbands? Got sons? Show them what a godly wife looks like so that they will seek a godly woman for themselves.

Daddies, treat your wife like a queen and live out loud. You’ll raise a princess and a knight in shining armor in the process.

Here are some things we have done:

1) One father’s day, my daughter and I planned a “blessing basket”. We talked about all the qualities my husband had, and thought up items to represent them. For example, my husband is flexible, so we placed a rubber band in the basket. He’s forgiving, so we found a fun eraser. He can fix anything, just like duck tape, so we included a roll of tape. It was a blast! And it spoke volumes to my husband and also trained my daughter to look for the positive and actively bless her future spouse.

2) When we’re at the grocery store, we’ll talk about making a special meal for Daddy. Basically, I make a point to verbalize what’s in my head and invite my daughter to participate in each aspect, from the shopping to the cooking. (Last week, she initiated the conversation and planned and cooked her own meal, beaming with pride when Daddy took his first bite.)

3) We made a daily encouragement basket. Again, this was a very special time for her and I. My husband loves smarties, so we bought a package and tied a printed verse or word of encouragement to each one, with the instructions  that he could only eat one a day. He brought his basket to work. Each time he ate a candy, he’d read the paper attached and get a mental hug. It also ended up being a witnessing tool because whoever entered his office went candy fishing.

Do you have any ideas to share? What messages is your behavior sending your children? Always remember, attitudes are more caught then taught and behaviors are learned. How you relate to your spouse today could help divorce proof your child later.