Sticky Labels

Dear Friends,

When my daughter was four years old she was given the book, "You Are Special" by Max Lucado. I've kept that book, because even though it's a children's book, it holds a great message for us all.

In brief, it's a story about some small wooden people, Wemmicks, who were made by Eli, the woodworker. The Wemmicks give out gold star stickers or grey dot stickers to each other based on their opinion of a Wemmick's appearance, abilities etc. Punchinello is given lots of grey dots and starts to believe what others are saying about him. He meets Lucia and learns that none of the stickers, neither the gold stars or the grey dots, stick to her. This is because she visits Eli every day and chooses to believe only what Eli thinks about her. She encourages Punchinello to do the same. On his first visit Eli tells him, "You are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."

Do you have any sticky labels stuck on you because of what others have said and thought of you? Do you believe what these labels say? If others keep telling you that's who you are, you eventually start to believe them. And the longer you believe them, the stickier they get. Almost like they've been stuck on by superglue!  
Sticky Labels

Many of our labels originated from when we were children, when we are probably at our most vulnerable. Labels such as "useless", "stupid", "a failure", "ugly", "fat" or a host of other negative labels. In secondary school, one of my labels was "average". No matter how hard I worked I was always an average student. As a result of this label I felt I wasn't someone worth noticing. I believed I was less than, that I wasn't important and that there was nothing special about me.

We can find that rather than these labels loosing their stickiness over time, they tend to become even more sticky. We can start to believe that we will always be defined that way. These labels cause us pain and leave scars and it doesn't take much for the pain to resurface at different times in our life. But there is someone we can go to for these wounds to be healed, if we will only turn to him. I'm talking about God, the great healer.

Over time, I've learnt not to pay so much attention to what others think or say about me (or even the negative things I've spoken and thought about myself) and this has happened as God has taken me into a deeper relationship with himself. He has revealed to me what he thinks of me. He has taught me to listen more to the truths he speaks and listen less to the lies that others speak or have spoken.

So what's the answer? What will remove a label's stickiness? The answer is the one that Max Lucado gives in the book I mentioned above. The only answer is to spend time every day with God. Spend time in his presence, listening to his voice and reading the truth that he gives in his Word. The more time you and I spend with God, the more we will start to believe his opinion of us over the opinions of others. His truth will become more important to us.

I love the verses in Psalm 139 which I'm familiar with in the NIV or NLT. But reading from unfamiliar translations can help us to concentrate more on what we are actually reading. Take a moment to read and soak in the following translation of Psalm 139:13-18 
You alone created my inner being.
You knitted me together inside my mother.
14 I will give thanks to you
    because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.
        Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
    when I was being made in secret,
    when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was still an unborn child.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book
        before one of them had taken place.
17 How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God!
How vast in number they are!
18     If I try to count them,
        there would be more of them than there are grains of sand.

 When I wake up, I am still with you. (GW)

Here's a couple more verses for you to read and meditate on:

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognise Him, the world does not recognise us either. 1 John 3:1 (VOICE)

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty saviour.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

It is possible to remove the labels that have stuck fast and hard over the years, but it does take time. It won't happen over night. Sometimes you may even find that a label you thought you'd got rid of, starts to become sticky again. You can feel it rubbing against you, making it's presence felt. It's important that when we realise it, we reject it once again. This is why we need to keep close to God. He is the one who can help us to readjust our thinking.

People will still want to place labels on us. But if we daily meet with God we will find that these labels no longer matter to us. People may say things about us, but they will no longer have any power over us, because we will be confident in the love that God has for us. Our lack of self-confidence which may have come from wearing these sticky labels will be replaced with a God-confidence. A confidence that comes from knowing we are known and loved by God.

If we're honest, you and I have probably placed sticky labels on others as well as having labels stuck on us. However, just as I'm still learning that God's opinion of me is the only one that matters, I am also learning to see others as God sees them, rather than putting any other label on them. 

Each one of us is unique because God has created us that way. He has made each one of us special. He loves each one of us as though we were his favourite. And this is a message that the world needs to hear.

To Think About:
What are the sticky labels that have been stuck to you? Not just the grey dot, negative ones but also the gold star, more positive ones. How have they affected you (your thoughts, your emotions, your actions)?

What will help in removing the labels that you have lived with? Will you choose to daily spend time with God listening and believing what he says and thinks of you?

Why not print out some of the verses mentioned (or other ones in the Bible that are similar) so that you have them at hand to meditate on. Ask God to help you readjust your thinking with his Word.


If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:
Dear Friend...


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