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. 

Who Are You (Part II)

I get a kick out of watching my fourteen year old daughter hover between childhood and adulthood. As she matures, she experiments with clothing and hair styles, slang words, and all those other things inherent to the teenage years. We’ve had countless conversations about outfits, make-up, and jewelry, and have spent hours upon hours perusing clothing racks. Yes, her world revolves around clothes and hair right now.

Had I not spent so much time researching identity issues for a contemporary youth program I’m writing for Christ to the World Ministries, I may be tempted to think her behavior is selfish and shallow. Shouldn’t I be training her to look beyond those things? To focus on things more important? To an extent, perhaps, but I’ve learned to spend as much time trying to understand her heart as I do observing and trying to correct her behavior. Most often, there’s more going on than I first assume.

I’ve realized my daughter’s behavior really isn’t about clothes or hair. It’s about something much deeper. With every outfit, hair flip, and music choice, she’s trying to establish her identity. No easy trait considering how many changes she’s been through over the past three years. Puberty hits, and suddenly she finds herself staring at a stranger in the mirror. Friends change, and she needs to decide which group to “merge with”. She longs to belong but also needs to be unique, longs for closeness and security at home while fighting for independence.

Although most of us move past this developmental stage, I think we all struggle with our identity at times. As Donna Stone shared on Monday, sometimes we allow who we are to get tied up in what we do.

When that happens, it helps to remind ourselves of how God sees us. If you belong to Christ, He says:

You are dearly loved (Col. 3:12)

Redeemed (1 Cor 6:20)

A masterpiece (Eph. 2:10)

Christ’s friend (John 15:15)

God’s child (John 1:12)

Chosen and adopted (Eph 1:3-8)

Complete (Col. 2:9-10)

Secure (Rom. 8:11)

Are you feeling pulled in a million directions today? Like perhaps you don’t quite measure up? Spend a moment reflecting on these verses and ask God to show you how He sees you.

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about what it means to rest in who we are in Christ.