A minister was visiting a lady in the nursing home and, in an effort to make conversation, he asked her about her childhood.
"My Dad was horrible to us," she replied. "All he did was yell at us and tell us how stupid we were!"
"After 94 years, she still hears the voice of her father," the minister reflected after the visit. "After 94 years of success, failure and everything in-between, she is still carrying the hurtful label that she was given when she was six years old. She was told she was stupid and she never forgot it."
Can you relate to that? People can be mean, and the labels and names that they give us can be hard to forget. In fact, sometimes we hear labels like lazy, stupid, worthless, useless, weak, weird, failure (and the list goes on and on) so often that we start to label ourselves that way.
After a while, the weight of those words can be very hard to bear.
But what if we heard some other words? What if we had other labels to think about? What if we listened to how God sees us and what he names us?
This is not a comprehensive list, but it will get us started. God calls us his: "treasured possession" (Deuteronomy 7:6); "sons and daughters" (2 Corinthians 6:18); "masterpiece" (Ephesians 2:10); "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17); "bride" (Revelation 19-21); "friends" (John 15:15); and "chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation and his special possession" (1 Peter 2:9).
What if that was the list that shaped us? What if those were the names that we called ourselves? Each of those names and descriptions carries with it a wealth of insight into how special, precious and wonderful each and every one of us really is.
Maybe a better life starts, not by changing a bunch of things, but by changing how we see ourselves. Maybe we just need to be relabeled.
One of the blessings of the church is that it ought to be a place where you can hear a new name and see yourself in a different way. It is maybe the one place where you can see yourself accurately and can be reminded that you are “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
We may doubt it at times, but ever forget that God says “You are mine!” (Isaiah 43:1).