Sunday, July 15, 2012

Labels Lie

This post is going to be a tough one for me because I'm going to expose a label that has been tattooed across my heart for a long time.  I've decided to expose it to the light and have it removed.  If you follow my blog, you know that I was raised in a Christian home by amazing parents, who taught me the love of Christ.  They lived a life of seeking Him and putting Him first in our family.

In high school, I never drank, smoked, cussed or ran around with boys.  You see, I believed what my parents taught me about living a pure life, one devoted to Christ. I married a Christian.  We started our family and attended Bible school.  I thought our family would continue on in the manner in which I was raised, a God centered family life.


And then, life happened.  We had 3 beautiful children.  Things began to go wrong, love was fought for and lost, and my husband and I divorced.  I'm not sure how it even happened, but it did.  After several years, I met my 2nd husband and we became engaged.  Shortly after our engagement, I got pregnant.  Needless to say, this is when the labeling began.

I had to tell my family about the pregnancy.  I was told by some members of my family that this child I was carrying, out of wedlock, would never be accepted or loved like my other children.  Some people told me that I disgusted them.  There were times when I would walk towards friends at church and they would turn the other way when they saw me coming. Thus, the label that became tattooed across my heart..."FAILURE"!

Some Christians are just as guilty as anyone at pinning labels on others. They think that if they've never gotten a divorce, if they've never gotten pregnant before they were married, if they've not had to start life over, they are a success and that those other people are beneath them.  Somehow, I think attaching labels to others, allows people to not to have to face their own shortcomings.  They don't even realize in the process they are giving themselves labels like "BETTER THAN" and "RIGHTEOUS".

Now, I am a grace person.  I am even part of a group called People of the Second Chance (POTSC). This is a group that believes in extending radical grace to those who have been labeled and feel like there is no grace for them.  We love on and show mercy and grace to hurting people who feel like they can never be accepted by God, the Church or just people in general.  So, you see, I am a grace person.

I try to place value and preciousness on everyone I come across; to see them as my Heavenly Father sees them.  It wasn't until recently, that I realized I haven't extended that same grace to myself.  While I have given my heart over to my Father, there is a part of it I have kept from Him; the part that is labelled "FAILURE".  That part, I have kept from Him, in the dark, in secret.  And when I try to go to that place in my heart, I can still hear the words that were spoken to me so many years ago as if it was just yesterday.  It's as if I get the tattoo redone every time I visit that place.  The colors become more vivid instead of fading with time.  Labels lie to us and tell us that we are something we are not.  And as we believe the lie, it slowly changes us into a person who we were not meant to be. Labels steal, kill and destroy.

This son that I had, 16 years ago, was no surprise to God!  God knew I would have this child from the beginning of time, just as He knew I would have my other children.  He has a plan for Him like He has a plan for each of my other children. He is an amazing child with the most tender heart and a capacity to love and be kind, like no one else that I know.  He is a gift.  He is loved by my family.  How could having this gift, make me a "FAILURE".


And so, I've decided to uncover the tattoo of that label on my heart.  I've laid it bare before the Lord.  I'm going to let the blood of Jesus wash over it and take it away.  I've heard tattoo removal is painful, so I suspect this won't be easy.  I'll have to change my way of thinking about myself.  I'll have to extend the same grace that I extend to others, to myself. I'll have to come up with a different label to tattoo there..like maybe GREAT MOTHER, or maybe, DAUGHTER OF THE KING, or maybe, just SINNER, SAVED BY GRACE.

My dear friend,  if you have tattooed any labels across your heart, that are interfering with you being the person God created you to be,  make the tough decision to remove them.  Regardless of what you have done or been, in the past, God wants to make you new and whole and clean.  The only label He has for you is "Child of God".  It's not easy to get rid of labels, but God makes a way.  The Scriptures, in Philippians, says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  These are the ways that you should be thinking about yourself.  If you have sin in your life, know that you are not your sin, repent of it and let Him make you clean and whole again.

From His Lap,

72 comments:

  1. This is a really beautiful post. I am currently stuggling with this issue. I was raised as a pastors kid, and now am married to man who is going to school to be a pastor-yet right now I hate church because of the labeling. I struggle with mental health issues and the very few who I have told have labeled me and shunned me. I hope desperately I find a church soon that will accept me as I am, but as of right now, that isn't happening.

    I am so proud of you for sharing- in turn you will be giving others courage to expose the 'tattoos' that they themselves have.

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    1. Oh, Carrie, you made me cry. Mental illness is NOT who you are! I know what labels can do to you! I hope that you find a wonderful church who supports and celebrates you! I belong to a wonderful church and we "do" life together. I'm going to pray that the Lord will bring people across your path who see you for who God created you to be. We all struggle with labels, Carrie! You're not in this alone.
      Blessings, sweetie!
      ~Erin

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  2. Love this!!! Love you! I fought through this long ago, thank you, Lord! Lord – thank you for our failings that we may find our Victory in YOU!!!
    Dianne

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    1. I know you have, Dianne! You are a great example of how this can be done! I have loved being a part of your journey!
      Love you!
      ~Erin

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  3. Great...Great post!! Labels that others put on us do tend to push us further into being the "person we are not". After I got saved the scripture in Philippians that you quoted was quoted to me so many times I can't even tell you...by someone that knows everything about me and doesn't care. They are a great friend and mentor to me to this day. I so like what you said...God wants to make you new and whole and clean. The only label He has for you is "Child of God". I am so very thankful!
    Blessings...Chelle

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    1. Chelle, I have even more labels that I'm working on removing. It's a slow painful process, but so freeing! I love discovering who God created me to be! He has created you to be spectacular!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  4. So inspirational, thank you for this. I have held onto a secret past for over a decade. I pray for forgiveness from my sin but I know I have not let it go and hold onto the guilt of failing our lord and myself.

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    1. Michelle, if you've confessed it to the Lord and repented in your heart and received forgiveness, then you need to replace your label with "Forgiven". God wants a clean pure heart to work with. Allow Him to do a work and a restoration in your heart!! You are valuable and precious! There is not one person among us who hasn't done something they are ashamed of. Ask yourself this, if I had done what you did, would you withhold forgiveness from me? Would you tell me that I can't be forgiven. I pray you get on the Lord's lap and let Him make you whole and clean again!!!!!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  5. Great to hear that you are moving on and having a closer relationship with job. I too hate "labelling" and how sterotyping really hurts the person involved.

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    1. Dominique, I'm slowly removing every label from my heart that doesn't belong there! It's the best feeling!
      Thank you for stopping by!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  6. Beautiful. I have my own share of labels; your courage as you reveal yours helps me. Thank you.

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    1. Beth, be encouraged and start removing those labels. You will be free indeed!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  7. Beautiful, truth filled post. May God's love, truth, forgiveness and grace continue to wash over your precious.

    May you rest in him and His completed work.

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    1. Mary, thank you for your kind words. It's a painful process...removing those labels...but I intend to continue! I'm so thrilled you stopped by! I love your blog and have shared with so many people!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  8. That is your precious heart! :)

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  9. I so love your transparency sister. As I read this I was reminded that after my divorce from an abusive man, it was someone in church that told me that I would never be forgiven by God for that divorce. Those words haunted me for many years until I learned what grace really is. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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    1. Wendy, why is the Church the worst at labeling??? It makes me so sad. I love when I see a sister raise her head high, receive her grace, and walk on through her journey. Thanks for stopping by. You bless me!
      ~Erin

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  10. Great writing always comes from the heart and it takes so much strength to reveal things here for all to read, so thank you for sharing!
    I also dislike quick judgements and righteous labeling. It builds walls between people that shouldn't be there.
    My problem is that I tend to label myself and assume that that's what others think - this type of thinking is just as destructive - so I just try to be the best I can be and try not to think about what others may or may not be thinking:)
    Thanks again for sharing,
    Kristina

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    1. Kristina, you are so wise! Thank you for your kind words. I am continuing to remove the labels that I have given myself and the ones others have given me. Thank you so much for visiting here. You have truly blessed me!
      ~Erin

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  11. Your best post ever, Erin! I'm working on not labeling and love the Labels Lie campaign at POTSC. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Sandy, I love you!!!! Thanks so much for your encouragement and inspiration! I love POTSC too!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  12. Sister Erin, I am so glad God's Blessings are in your heart. I lived in an area that was so judgmental and pretentious that I wanted to leave since I was 15, but it took 30 years to finally get out of there. Society is so cruel and unusual and the punishment hurts. But that's not where our eyes must be. Thank you for being so honest and sharing. I hope I can take some of the pain away by being a Friend in His Name. Many Blessings, Janet

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    1. Janet, your friendship is a blessing and your encouragement is dear to me! I'm glad that you finally got away from a place that was destructive to you! Thank you for stopping by and inspiring me!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  13. Oh Erin, those people judging you are just pathetic. Take no stock in it. When you are asked to not judge people, and then that is all you do, that will be your big problem in the end. Not the person who was judged.

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    1. Thank you, Courtney. You are always so uplifting and positive! You are a blessing to me, always!
      ~Erin

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  14. Erin.... AMEN Sister!! Boy I needed to hear this message in more ways than one... There you go living in my head and heart again!! ;) Erin once again you have graced my heart with your words. Thank you!!! and Bless you and your family!!

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    1. Oh I'm so glad you were blessed, Carla! You always encourage me so much with my writing! You are such a blessing to me!
      XOXO,
      ~Erin

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  15. I'm divorced & I never considered myself a failure & you aren't either. But you are right about Christians labeling/judging others & it is this judgement that has kept my oldest out of church. She has tattoos & piercings, so you can imnagine the looks she gets when she walks into church. It is sad, but sometimes Christians keep others from getting to know Christ because of their labeling others. This was a great post!

    Stopping by from VoiceBoks!

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    1. Amen, sister!! You couldn't have said it any better! Your daughter is precious and valuable to God, and I hope she knows that! I will pay that God brings people across her path to love on her!
      Thank you so much for stopping by!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  16. Erin, every time I read your words I see God's beauty splashed all over you. He has gifted you in many ways, as an amazing writer, an encourager, a friend, and a sister in Christ just to name a few. Those are the only "labels" I see when your smile flashes across my screen. I do know how you feel though. I've been married and divorced before as well and tend to avoid talking about my past with other Christians for fear of judgement. Like you, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and every day God is crafting me better...more like Christ. His view of me is the only view that matters. Believing that in my heart is the challenge. :)

    Love you,
    ~Rosann

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  17. Rosann, your sweet words made my heart glad! I'm so blessed to have a friend like you! Your encouragement and inspiration are such a blessing to me. Thank you for stopping here today and leaving me this wonderful nugget!!!
    I love you, sister!
    ~Erin

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  18. Hi Erin - there is that saying that God's army, us, we are the only army that wounds its OWN soldiers. This path you have walked has made you a woman of grace. I am so glad that God has shown you to extend that grace to yourself. People often judge us by what they 'think' they would do in the same circumstances, but, when that becomes their circumstance, their response is not as they thought it would be. You are an amazing woman of God. thank you for your transparency. I pray God's abundant blessing on you. I am adding this post to my list of favourites and I hope whoever needs to read it will find it.
    God bless
    Tracy

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    1. Oh, Tracy! These words mean so much coming from you! I respect your relationship with the Lord so much! I have heard of that saying, "God's army, us, we are the only army that wounds its OWN soldiers." I hate it! I have a few more labels that I'm working on removing.
      You are such a blessing to me and your kind words are like manna to my soul!
      I. Love. You.
      ~Erin

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  19. Tracy ^up above^ led me to this post. I needed to hear it. Thank you Erin.

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    1. Then, I'm so glad Tracy sent you here, Liesl! I pray God's blessing and grace be all over you, from the top of your head to the souls of your feet!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  20. Erin, thanks for addressing such a difficult issue. Labeling others is so easy to do. I hope I can see others as our Heavenly Father does.

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    1. Becky, I know that you do! You are such a kind and gracious woman! You are a blessing to many in the way that you show the love of God!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  21. WOW...how could anyone place such nasty labels on you. You of all people should have labels like beautiful, Godly, Wonderful Mother, Inspiration to all those whose life she touches. I have had far more labels placed on my heart than I dare speak of these days. I know those labels are not true...they are, as you said lies; but they are hurtful all the same, and they have a way of transforming us into someone we wouldn't normally be. Me for example, I am a recluse by choice. This was such a beautiful post...thanks for sharing your heart with us. ~Big hugs, xoxo

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    1. Mitzi, I know you've struggled with labels as well. They are so damaging! You have worked hard to do away with yours! You are a beautiful example of having strength in Christ! You bless me continually.
      Thank you so much for your kind words. They made me cry! I love you!
      ~Erin

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  22. This post came to my inbox and the most needed time! I had just found out that my 17yr old isn't my "little girl" anymore. The hurt the guilt the thoughts of me having her at 18 myself was flooding my broken heart and I took it very personal. I needed this post and I thank you for sharing it was a needed post for the hurting! Thank you!

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    1. Thomasina,just love on her and let her know that you are there for her and that even if you don't agree with her decisions, you love her and God loves her! You are a great mom and I know this hurts. Be strong for her and let the Lord be strong for you!
      I love you, sister!
      ~Erin

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  23. Erin. This blog made me cry. Ooo how I can unbelievable relate to this. I grew up in what was labeled "The perfect family" but I was exposed to all the dirty little secrets my family kept while shining brightly on the outside, they lived in dirty secrets on the inside. I grew up with that label. I am at this time going through a divorce, after 17 years. I am always feeling like I need to explain to my Christian friends how I did not take this lightly and how my husband cheated on me for year blah blah.. The story goes on and on. These past couple of years, while prayerfully considering what to do I have learned about Grace. That Grace you talk about. To the labeled ones. Extending out and generously pouring it out.. I hope we can talk sometime.. I would love to chat with you. BTW thank you for stopping by my blog:)) Kristin

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    1. We can talk any time, Kristin! You are not who your family was and you are not responsible for what your husband has done. I could tell you so much more, so please feel free to contact me any time. My email is fatherschild@sbcglobal.net.
      Be blessed and bask in His love and grace, sister!
      ~Erin

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  24. What a courageous post Erin, a gift to other women and yourself. I think sometimes if we allow a label to stick, and hide behind it, the grace we could offer to others is diminished. In a quest to find more grace for yourself I think it's apparent, at least from the comments, that you have even more grace to offer!

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    1. Wow, Beck! That's an amazingly profound thought. I love it. "If we allow a label to stick, and hide behind it, the grace we could offer to others is diminished." I'm going to chew on that one for a while! Thank you so much for stopping by! What a blessing.
      ~Erin

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  25. hi friend how are you ?

    im visiting all my blog friends to notify im at wordpress i had to setting up for 3 times a blog and the cliches keep coming...so right now im at wordpress

    its better...for me...i havent forgot about you this post is for everyone...this is my new link you only have to link it at people you follow and automatically my posts will show up with your other friends

    so you can read and comment if you wish without to open a account on wordpress...hope you understood...thank you if you do...

    will love to hear from you.
    .God bless you

    soraya

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    1. Soroya, I have a WordPress account so I can leave comments. I will ck out your new blog when I get back from vacation!!! I think you will like it.
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  26. What a wonderful post! As I read this, all I could do was think that you are EXACTLY where Got wants you to be right now. Would you have the understanding and compassion you now have for others if it weren't for life's "mistakes." No. And although the circumstances weren't probably your ideal, can you even imagine life without your 16 year old son, now? I doubt very much. He, just like your other 5 children, sound like a wonderful blessing.

    The Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? What seems like pain, trial, and tribulation in our lives is all part of his grander plan. We just have to trust in him.

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    1. Diane, thank you so much for those very, very kind and gracious words. You are right. I can't imagine life without my son! I'm so glad you stopped by and left these encouraging, inspiring words!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  27. What a fabulous post - don't worry about those that judge you, i stopped doing that a long time ago. I am not Christian but do believe in a higher power, and that is the person who will be able to pass judgement if and when the time comes. You sound like you are doing just fine:)

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    1. Thank you, sweetie. I am doing just fine and I've learned a lot about how labels can effect our lives. I'm going to remove every one that I don't want in my life. Thanks so much for stopping by!
      ~Erin

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  28. Poignant and beautiful all wrapped into words ...

    Delighted to stop by and splash around a bit today. This looks like a beautiful spot to refresh in all things good. Its been a bit since I have been in this blog ocean, but such a joy to be splashin' goodness again!

    Splashin'
    Sarah

    http://www.justsarahdawn.blogspot.com

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    1. Sarah, I'm so glad you stopped by! I've been out of town for a couple of weeks and just now saw your comment! Thank you so much for your kind words. I will ck out your blog too!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  29. Dear Erin,
    You are loved! I'm glad you see that:)
    You removing the label, I think, has helped others to remove their's. Thank you for being so open.
    Isn't grace a WONDERFUL gift?! :)
    Blessings~

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    1. Aw, Kristin, thank you so much! I hope that others will see that they are able to get rid of their own labels. I just love when you stop by!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  30. Erin,
    This post hit home with me! I, too have been divorced and remarried only to find myself divorced again. The failure label has been a huge one in my life. I know see where other Christians are now labeling my youngest daughter,as she only has one parent. It doesn't seem to effect her like it has me. I asked God why would he use me to do his works and my answer ......"you have a story " Tell of my love and grace ".
    Thank you for sharing!!!! It ministered to my heart!
    Blessings!
    Stacey

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    1. Stacey, you are so right!! You have a story that will bless others. Don't ever let anyone take away from that story by labeling you! I'm so glad you stopped by and left a comment. Thanks for your kind words!!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  31. God's been teaching me.. Don't allow Satan to hold me in my guilt and shame. When I do I am robbing HIM (God) from blessing others by not allowing others to see me as redeemed. So now I gladly share my story with others so the Lord can bless someone else through my own redemption story. PTL!

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    1. What a great testimony! You learned to shed your labels and use your story to bring others to Christ! Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm so glad you stopped by!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  32. Thank you for thid beautiful blog. It touch me so.

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    1. Jedidja, I'm always so glad when you stop by. I'm blessed that the post touched you.
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  33. Ouch...what can I say? You know some of my recent woes and this touched a place in me that I know I need to look at more. *sigh* Yeah, I had a baby when I was 20, didn't get married until I was 25 and had five more kids. It really is tough out there sometimes.

    Luv you Erin

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  34. Oh my goodness, you almost had me in tears with this post. Thanks you for a reminder that God does not put labels on us. Lately I have been carrying a label in my heart and it wass not until I read this that I realized it!

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    1. Angie, I'm so glad this post blessed you! Realizing that we have allowed labels that God did not place there is very eye opening! Replace that label with something wonderful...like "beautiful daughter of the King!"

      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  35. What an amazing post! I have recently "removed" some of my labels but am still working on some others. Thank for such wonderful words of encouragement. God has truly blessed you.

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  36. Just found your blog from Instagram and I believe I follow you on Pinterest too...anyway, as I read this post (it opened the flood gates btw) it really hit home with me and made me realize the guilt I burden myself with stems from labels. Labels from my mom and my older sister and labels I put on myself because of their comments, opinions and actions toward me through the years. My guilt is struggling with the decision to distance myself from their manipulation and constant drama. I'm very blessed to have my husband and our two boys plus two daughter in laws. We too are a blended family and have been together since our boys were 4&5 yrs old. I feel guilty for our happiness and guilty for the peace in our lives now. Deep down I worry and wonder when can I let go and quit feeling like a horrible person. Actually I was scared to put any if this (which is my deep dark secret) out in the universe and in writing! Pretty much wanted to tell you how much I admire you for your post and that I could relate to your feelings about going through a divorce. I'm tempted to erase all of this :) but I think it may do me some good to hit publish.
    xo,
    Beth

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  37. Hey Erin,
    How are you? You haven't posted in a while...I pray everything is okay.

    Blessings,
    Marcia

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  38. WOW! I love this. People of the second chance. That is so wonderful. It really speaks to my heart. I have been blessed to belong to a church led by a Pastor that has always taught us to love and not judge. We all have those hidden places in our hearts, those tattoos of pain and heartbreak. But God wants nothing more that to erase all of that pain and fill us with his grace. Thank you for sharing your story, it has blessed me.

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    1. Tamara,
      I'm so glad you stopped by! I belong to a wonderful church that preaches placing value and preciousness on others too! I love it and it has changed the way that I live forever!
      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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  39. As the tears are caught up in my throat, all I want to say is.... Thank you Erin

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    1. You are so welcome, dear. It was the Lord, speaking to your heart. I just wrote what He impressed on me to write! I'm so glad it blessed you!

      Blessings,
      ~Erin

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Thank you for giving us a little nugget of truth from your heart!

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