Monday, August 28, 2017

Those Detrimental Labels

The Bible makes it clear that mankind was created in the image of God. Each of us is created individually to reflect His glory in unique ways. We are created to fulfill purposes He designed us to specifically fulfill. Yet, we live in a fallen world and as a result most of us (if not all) have negative core beliefs so deeply entrenched that we don't even realize they are there. These beliefs tell us things that are contrary to God's truth. These beliefs drive our thoughts, attitudes, decisions, and actions. They govern how we feel about ourselves and others, how we interpret life, and how we view our circumstances, events, and others' actions. They even govern how we treat ourselves and how we treat and respond to others.

I believe core beliefs begin as labels. Some of those labels begin in childhood when we don't know how to correctly interpret life, relationships and experiences. When we misinterpret words, events, and others' actions we often end up applying shame-based labels to ourselves. Think of children who grew up neglected and abandoned. They often faulted themselves, assuming the labels of not good enough, too stupid, too ugly--and any other too they believed kept them from getting their needs of love and nurturing met. Think of the children who have been abandoned either physically or emotionally by parents' who are incapable of loving well, drowning in addictions that caused role reversals, or simply leaving to start another family somewhere else. They label themselves as defective, unloved, unneeded, unwanted, and not enough.

Think of the children who were being sexually abused or exploited. They labeled themselves as dirty, disgusting, trashed, used, vile and ruined. In addition, when no one noticed the pain they were in or responded to their cries for help. they added other labels like invisible, not worth saving, shameful. Think of the children who grew up with others labeling them with ugly names, harsh words and racial slurs. Words like Ugly. Fat. Chunky. Stupid. Different. Slut. Worthless shaped their view of themselves. Think of the messages given by others that turned into labels given. Useless, Insignificant, Unneeded, Ugly, Stinky, Dumb. Crazy. Ridiculous. You are....You fill in the blank with what you heard. It could be the source of a label you wear.
Think of teens dating, who are giving gave away their hearts, their bodies, and their souls outside of God's plan and then having their hearts trampled and tossed away like the evening garbage. Think of those whose "No's" were disregarded or silenced with threats of violence or shame. Think of those who were given labels by bullies, indicating they didn't even have a right to take up space, breath air, or live.

Think of women who are living in a media-driven culture that defines beauty as size two, flat stomach, space between thighs, and certain skin tones whose are not genetically designed for that. Think of women whose husbands define beauty by the air brushed porn they view--pictures burned in their brains--pictures that don't age over time, don't shift with child birth, or don't experience the pain of arthritis and other debilitating diseases. Or the men who were labeled worthless, stupid, or dumb by frustrated parents, thoughtless teachers, angry wives, hateful bosses, or resentful co-workers.

The source of all negative labels originates with the enemy of our souls--even the ones spoken by people, implied by the actions of others, or assumed by us due to our experiences. I know this because he is source of every lie that goes against God's truth. I was given permission to share the link to an amazing video. In this video Isabelle sings about labels. In it there is a scene in which she portrays a model being squeezed into clothing too small as her beautiful face is being painted with harsh black makeup designed to hardens her gentle sweet beauty. She finally gets up and walks out of the photo shoot, stripping off the corset type clothing and washes off the makeup, showing her refusal to be made into something she isn't. That is powerful!

I was sharing with my husband today about the video and all the different ugly and painful labels with which I  used to struggle and a few that still remain a constant battle. I told him it was in my Christian counselor's office I had that moment Isabelle had that caused her to walk off the set. It was there that I first identified and opened up about all the hateful, ugly labels I had heard, I had assumed, and that I continuously reiterated in my negative thinking until they had sunk so deep they ran through my mind of their own accord, causing self-hatred to run hot through my veins. It was sitting in that office over a period of time with her reminding me of truth that helped me see those labels were lies of the enemy. It was there that I began to recognize the power I had to refuse to let the media, our culture, the abuses I had experienced, the hurtful words that had been spoken over me, the hateful actions of others towards me, the false accusations being hurled at me, and harsh judgments being spoken about me label me as defective, dirty, unloved, too fat, too ugly, too stupid, invisible, unworthy, too unloved, too much, not enough, and inadequate. Those things had become so deeply entrenched I had to choose the truth of what God says about me over and over--truths like I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am beloved, I am beautiful, I am saved, I am sanctified, I am chosen, I am cherished, I am whole, I am of sound mind, I am seen, I am heard, and and I am clean. I have had to let the love of God and His truth continually wash over me to get rid of the labels and let Him be my source of worth. When I understood how I had let those labels define me and how they were destroying me, I became passionate about fighting the lies and helping others fight their lies and help them absorb what God says about them and worked it into our Passionate Heart Ministry.

Understanding labels helped me understand the power of words whether spoken or withheld. If we tell a child over and over and over he is lazy, he will be lazy. If we tell children they are worthless they will begin to believe it and act out of that belief. If we tell a girl she is a slut repeatedly, she will fulfill the label with her life. If we refuse to speak kindness or love into someones heart, they will begin to believe they are unloveable. If people refuse to make eye contact with a homeless person, he will begin to believe he is invisible.

I wish we all understood the labels with which we all struggle. Those labels keep people from being all God created them to be. When we don't understand our own negative labels, we will end up labeling others in detrimental ways. If we let the truth of God and His love wash over us, our negative labels will be replaced by His Truth, enabling us to become more than we ever dreamed we could be. Then we will be in a place to help others remove the labels etched into their souls by repeatedly encouraging them with the truth of who they were created to be. And our God who only creates beauty and He ascribed worth to each of us with his own blood.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!