what if they knew... the message behind the label

As i listened to him speak, an all too familiar thought crossed my mind.  
“This doesnt apply to you girl...He’s talking to people that don’t have the struggles that you do.  You’ve already had your chance and you missed it, so somehow you have to learn to survive and carry on.  This is the lot you got in life” 

Hmmm. thats odd. I knew I’ve heard that voice before, but for some reason this time it didn’t seem very convincing. I mean it did, but right in the middle of church?  

I found myself wanting to believe what the guy on the platform was sharing.  And yet my own thought life was trying to disagree?  
Could it be, my own thoughts are not really my own?  What if what I’ve heard is really true - That the enemy of our soul will do everything to convince us of what we’re not, so we are too embarrassed to come any closer to freedom? Ya know; things along lines of Not being good enough to ____ or Not strong enough to resist ____. Not pure enough to ____. Not worth enough…etc, etc.)  
Even as I’ve grown in my own life struggles and overcoming things one at a time, or continuously battling the same old things, I too recognize the reality. These labels have such a way of defining our every step. They have so much power over us, they can control decisions about the future, determine patterns we fall into, change our mood, even our thinking.

YOU were the one to keep the peace at home when mom and dad would fight.  You became the peacemaker, but so much so that keeping the peace now means letting people walk over you as if your feelings don’t matter even the slightest. You’re too afraid to rock the boat, so why not settle it in your own mind so you don’t disrupt the peace? 
You got whatever you wanted growing up!  Not because you wanted a brand new car on your 16th or a fully paid college tuition but because they tried to buy your affection and now you’re known as the one who doesn’t have to work for anything, “Just ask daddy!” You can hear them now.  
or perhaps...You’ve jumped from one marriage to another. The first one didnt work out because they cheated. But the second just seemed to not work.  Now that you’re single and engaged again you’re already dealing with the whispers of people thinking the 3rd marriage isn’t going to last, or that it couldn’t be that special. Just give up now; save the embarrassment  
He’s a lawyer and had a full ride scholarship for baseball - an allstar! She earned her masters and went on to get her Doctorate with tuition assistance for grades - a Scholar!Now that you’re in school and have no idea what you want to become, you know there’s a lot riding on your future, and yet because you seem so ‘average’ at everything maybe you don’t have it in you to be anything great. The struggle is real. 
Every other relationship has failed after 3months (or less than) And what they don’t know is that its just because they weren’t the right fit for some reason you feel compelled to make this one work; even though you already know it might not be a good fit either.  Pressures on. 
Maybe You went straight to the top of the industry with your good looks and fancy negotiating skills (even if they were a facade) and soon after you reached the top, you became socialite that everyone knows.  More recently you’ve found yourself in your late 20s feeling like there’s nothing noteworthy of your life, except fantastic party skills. What happens when you decide to go back to school at 28 or 32?  What will they think of you then?  
Partner after years of discipline now he expects you to follow in his footsteps too; but he was an alcoholic and had a terrible home life. You love and serve your family well, but the road to partner doesn’t seem so easy, or desireable for that matter.    
Don’t make partner and disappoint your dad! Or live to what’s expected of you and make everyone around you happy, except at the cost of your family?? Really?? Man up. Provide for your family. Dont show anyone your weakness  
If anyone knew the real struggle.  You act like you don’t struggle with much, but joke when the rest of the crowd jokes about pop-culture, yet you can’t seem to get enough: Its always one more drink, one more excuse to party, to satisfy that inner desire... When no one’s watching you’re able to look up those images. You got this, just dont let people know you’re an addict and you’re good to go.  

As I listened longer, I found myself listening ever so intently.  With the label I continue to wear, change, and process along the way, I knew I was there for a reason.  I found my spirit getting lighter. I was actually wanting to believe the guy speaking. What if what this guy was telling the truth? I thought. That the truth of God’s word would set me free?  What he was saying rang so close to home, I had to actually write it down so I didn’t dream up something too good to be true.  He said Jesus’s word could actually set us free!  He reminded us that when we live with anything long enough, like any habit, pattern, or addiction; its hard to just break off in an instant. Even if we have had an encounter with Jesus.  When we wear a label that we’ve given ourselves or a habit we’ve somehow have picked up along the way, when we take that label on over time it defines us; creating patterns of thinking. 

So why wouldn’t it would impact the way we think of ourselves or who we think we are? 
It took time to develop, so its not an overnight thing of being set free… 

And yes, obviously there are things and labels people live with daily that don’t impact them to the point of being broken, but when you lose a family because you cant get your addiction under control, or your house is repo’d by the bank because you lost all your money and you have to watch your parents get kicked out of their house... Or when your efforts don’t solve the fighting, you cannot keep the peace, or you know whatever you to make things better won’t be good enough to let them love you, you come to a place of total surrender. Right?  And still, sometimes even then AFTER the crazy struggle and BEYOND the surrender, you're working to get rid of past labels and struggles, but the pattern of the past is repeated? And discouragement sets in. 

We throw our hands up saying “what’s wrong with me?  Thats the same thing Ive been doin for years!”   

Woah!  i thought… I’ve been there! I am always on such a good role of “being good” living without that vice, being strong enough, good enough, maintaining control and then something will happen and I feel like I totally have been pushed back to the beginning or even worse 10 steps back

But THEN he said it!  He talked about God’s word and WHO Jesus is and His power to free us of labels and struggles. Through the power of being in the word ON purpose and regularly we could demolish labels and learn a new identity in who God thinks we are, and actually walk fully in that!  (You see I used to think it was up to me to get it straight. And put my life together. Be ____ to them.  Show you have it all figured out, that there are no struggles and people would be impressed. . . Or I lived in such a way where I didnt think my issues were that bad. "Especially in comparison to ____.” I would think  But I still struggled with inadequacy.  I still wrestled with wondering if people would see right through my facade.  It was exhausting:( 

When I met Jesus I knew he was special. I knew he did something to cheat death and actually go on to live forever.  I had heard he lived a perfect life without sin, and I thought “how could that be?” I learned he was tempted even, just never gave in.  (Don’t you love that too?! When you’re able to ‘stay strong’ against a temptation and overcome?:) But I kept in inquiring: why was this guy “soooo amazing?!”  

Well, through years of learning more about Jesus and his love, I learned he loved me as I was.  No matter WHO I was, or what I did to receive his love, or how I behaved, whether it was right or wrong.  I heard he came to set prisoners free and release chains from those living in bondage to issues, struggles, and labels from their past.  After a few years I decided knowing who he was wasn’t enough. I wanted to know HIM! I wanted to experience his power and see my own heart healed.  I was so tired of it hurting! From relationships gone south, from unresolved problems. As I read more about this man, I realized he had to be more than human!!!  He was able to give sight to the blind, turn water into wine, feed thousands (from nothing), even walk on water… And while all these things were amazing miracles that are definitely superhero status; what I learned even more was about his acceptance and love for everyone he encountered. Everyone he met was given a second chance. Everyone.  And all he simply wanted was for people to be set free from past damage and hurt. He hated religious leaders and people (YAY!  Religion seriously makes me want to puke!)  And he loved the least of these: the outcasts.  He was able to read into people’s pasts and tell them to turn from them even if they were living with their soon to be 6th husband. He visited friends and even raised the dead himself.  You see Jesus was a man of many talents, miracle maker, and fantastic teacher… But as I’ve also experienced him and continue to dive into his word: I’ve learned he really does love me! AND he has the power to heal and restore and redeem.  My heart has been healed from terrible broken relationships several times.  My value and belief in who I am, has changed and grown to reflect really what he thinks of not just me, but YOU too!  
I’ve been a believer for a long time.  I actually think I’ve gone in seasons of knowing God more and more (from elementary to college and past) but in and out of season as if a distant relative who visits; there were seasons I was closer to him than others.  I knew I loved Jesus, but I never really had him radically change my life until a handful of years ago. Thats why its so cool to hear pastors like this one recently who shared about the power of understanding and knowing exactly WHO we are so we can get rid of labels once and for all!   

Romans 8 tells us who we are as Gods children. It also tells us that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, and are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8 shows us that we are more than conquerors and NOTHING can separate us from the love in Christ Jesus.  There are so many fantastic nuggets in just Romans 8 its a great place to start understanding our identity as heirs of Christ…   BUT then anywhere in the word of God, we can turn to and be encouraged that God Loves you, he is for you, has a plan and a purpose, and there is a reason  you are here, even a reason you are reading THIS.   If you do not know him yet, my encouragement is to ask him to show you himself!  To quiet the voice of doubt that you think is your own voice.  That you would consider for a moment those doubts in your head might not actually be from you, and instead its the enemy wanting to tear you down and confuse you.  You are worth SO MUCH MORE than the thoughts that enter your mind about not being worth much. 

He has a plan for you!  Its also for a hope and a future, so despite your circumstance. Despite what you’re wrestling with that you just cant seem to let go; he is worth more. He can free you of your past, your labels, your addictions, your habits, your thoughts… and He can show you how much better plans cain be with Him at the forefront. Its not about a religion at all!  Its simply in knowing Him and that the power of his word will change you from the inside out.  If you’re not careful, it might even wreck you like it has me ;)  Where I cannot sit still when I know the freedom I have in HIM…. its glorious!  I HOPE you can know it too!  


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