Burn the labels

Have you ever wondered what makes people act the way they do? Have you ever wondered what makes you act the way you do? Why do you freak out over silly things? Why do you get defensive? Why do you hide?

People do some crazy stuff and think some really irrational thoughts, don’t they? Don’t we?

We really are products of a lifetime of input, for better or for worse, and how we have responded to that input. That input programs us to think and do certain things. It may be tempting to blow off things that happened long ago because they seem silly, but if they cause us to think wrong thoughts and react inappropriately in our lives, we have to address them today.

For instance, I’ve gone through most of life assuming that people either don’t or won’t like me. If they’re spending time with me, it’s either because they have to or are just trying to be nice. It’s not really a conscious thought. It’s more of just my mode of operation. And it’s sick.

I’ve actually grown a lot in this area, but every now and then I find myself falling back into it if I’m feeling weak for some reason. One of the things that has helped is recognizing where it came from.

Lots of things added up to make me think that way, but in particular I remember something from 9th grade. The hellacious junior high years. Ugh. My teacher used to let students grade papers and one day I got a paper back and written across the top, in green ink, was the word, “tagalong.” I can still see it…fighting tears, fighting humiliation, wondering who wrote it. I think I know.

It said I didn’t belong, didn’t really fit and wasn’t wanted. I was just tagging along. To go along with that, someone came to me the same year (I think) and said, “You know that so-and-so could be really popular if she wasn’t friends with you. You’re holding her back.”

Well, thanks for that, have a lovely day. You can crawl back under your bridge now, troll. Kidding. I actually said nothing.

If I had been a stronger person, or more grounded in who I was, more aware that God had me made me His masterpiece, I might have let it roll off. But I didn’t. I internalized it and responded by backing down, yielding to those words (among others) and accepting them.

Now, they probably were actually true, in the deadly atmosphere of junior high politics. However, it didn’t say anything about me at all, but about the condition of their hearts. I just didn’t know that at the time. I do now. I feel for people having to go through those years in the social media era, where people are free to bully and humiliate in a public forum.

One of the essential things we must do is introduce truth into the places we’ve believed lies or had the wrong perspective. We need to ask God to show us what He sees, what is the right way to view ourselves and what is the right way to respond.

Some of us believe lies because of what others have said or done. We were innocent bystanders and got dumped on by another broken person.

Some of us believe lies because of our own failures. We don’t understand that He makes all things new when He takes over our lives. Anything is possible with Him.

Some of us are perfectionists. We either don’t try anything at all unless we know we can succeed or we do everything, and do it perfectly, checking off our lists, to prove we are worthy of the air we breathe. Both are fear-based and both are deadly to the soul.

Lies must be kicked to the curb. Easier said than done, I know. A good starting point is just to simply ask God to show us where our thinking is off and then ask what truth we can use to replace the lie when it surfaces.

For instance, I might just remind myself that I am God’s masterpiece, created to do good works, which He planned in advance for me to do. You might remind yourself that His power is perfected in our weakness. When we can’t, He can.

Our minds have to be renewed and our hurt places brought forward into truth, into reality. It took a lifetime to make you who you are and more often than not it takes time to undo the mess. Be patient and don’t give up. You might be shocked to find out who you really are, who He made you to be, what He put inside of you. He doesn’t make junk, you know.

Take off the labels given by mean girls, by overwhelmed parents, by frustrated teachers, by insecure kids: loser, tagalong, waste of space, failure, ugly. Lies. Take them off and set them on fire if you like. I did.

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