Written by Krystal Travis
From birth you are slapped with one label after another, until eventually, it feels impossible to find your true identity in a world full of labels. The process of finding your true identity begins with accepting how you were created and who your Creator made you to be. He gives us some clues.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV).
Think of these words like a love song about the creation of you. You were created by someone who knows your innermost being. You are not an accident—a clump of cells just thrown together. You were knit together in love in your mother’s womb.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made. The original definitions here mean, first, with great reverence, heartfelt interest, and respect. And second, unique, set apart, and marvellous. Imagine for a moment being created with this much love, care, interest, respect, and marvelous uniqueness. What does it feel like to be a person who is absolutely cherished, wanted and loved this much? Think! You were made on purpose, for a purpose!
To find your true identity you first need to know the true identity of your Creator. This leads you to an understanding of your identity in Him and an acceptance of the core labels given to you by Him. You are created in His image, you have been adopted as His child, forgiven and invited into a life of becoming more like Jesus. You must come to an acceptance of these labels so you can actually change and remove any false labels put on you by yourself or others.
You may have spent the majority of your life being controlled and defined by false labels, and they hurt. They hurt to the point of ultimate despair, where you feel you no longer have any options, no hope, no point or reason to go on living a life of labels. You just want to give in and give up.
Please know you can come to a point where you can alleviate, lessen, or remove the pain that these labels are causing you. This is done through God’s grace, with much introspection, prayer, observation, and acceptance of His truth and love.
The problem begins when you have been given a label that is not true to who God created you to be, but you leave that label there for you and everyone else to see. Then you begin to believe it, and eventually you let it define you. You assimilate the label into yourself; it takes on form in your appearance, attitude, or beliefs.
One of the labels that I let define me for the majority of my life is being called “fat.” At first, this label was applied to me as a very young girl going through a common growth stage. People began to “good-naturedly” tease me about being chubby. As my family was very into health and fitness at that time, I took this label to my heart and started believing it. I began to do things that were damaging to my growing body, which lead to lifelong health issues and a period of self-shame, embarrassment, fear, isolation, and condemnation. This turned into obsessing over weight, calories, exercise, self-loathing, and fear.
Fear. It is the ultimate label that led me into decades of pain and struggles through complicated pregnancies, gastric sleeve surgery, a life-threatening illness, and autoimmune disease. Fear is the opposite of love. Fear is at the root of all our false labels, yet God tells over and over not to be afraid.
“But now says the Lord, he who created you […]: ‘fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1 ESV).
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV).
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 ESV).
It took years of Jesus lovingly speaking into my mind, heart, and life to remove pieces of this label—sometimes in little pieces, other times in huge chunks. Today I can honestly say that I have finally let this label go. I fully believe who and what my Creator says about me and have found my true identity in the midst of my labels.
You see, if you were to look at my outer appearance today you could say that the fat label still defines me. But that is not God’s truth for my heart. Inside, He has given me freedom from this label as He continues to work on the outward appearance that others see.
Externally, I have lost great amounts of weight and gained some back due to health issues. Still, the true weight of this label has been removed from my heart and spirit by the help of the Holy Spirit, and it no longer weighs me down (pun intended) or is a defining label for the life and journey my loving Creator has set before me.
The same is true for you. You do not have to let a label define you, even if others believe it. It is what God says about you that defines you. When you come to the belief and acceptance of this, then you will start down the path of becoming a label-breaker in a world full of labels.