Labels

by Deborah Maxey

As a psychotherapist, I found every client presented with one common issue. They mislabeled themselves. And believed it. They might tell me they were “losers,” only to find they may have created a profitable business or raised successful children.  Many could tell me they hated being around people because they were “ugly, too fat, too thin, too tall, too short.” And I was looking at an attractive person.

Their thoughts had become labels they believed. Where did the labels come from? Together we worked to locate the sources. Those around them saw them that way first. But once they believed it was true, the negative label became their own. It was embedded in their core. Their heart.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)

Our brains are wired to accept the negative far faster than the positive. Negative is like a heavy ball rolling downhill. Positive is like pushing a heavy ball uphill. We argue against compliments inwardly, “This old thing? Yeah, well I have gained ten pounds since you saw me. Or, “Yes, but that isn’t as good as yours.” We accept the negative quickly. “I agree, I could have done better. I loused this up. I do look sick, tired, older….”

Negativity defeats self-love.

Paul wrote: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13: 9 KJV). If we don’t love ourselves, we can’t love our neighbor. We believe that everyone we meet is judging us harshly by the same criteria with which we judge ourselves.

So how do we overcome that? We can start with prayer, asking the Lord to show us what prevents us from accepting and loving ourselves. Then write down our negative labels. Who taught us to see ourselves that way? Finally, we dispute every one of them with facts that disprove them. One at a time. No giving it a quick once over here. Pray to be shown.

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15, KJV).

Jesus knew that many labels were assigned to him by people who had watched him heal the sick, raise the dead, or feed thousands with a child’s lunch. Yet, they had difficulty saying who He was: The Messiah, The Son of God. Their thoughts about Him, despite evidence, prevented them from accepting Him and allowing it to change their hearts.

Who do we say that He is?  Is He the Lord of our hearts that can help us exorcise the negative labels that keep us from seeing ourselves as His exquisite creation?  He is. He performs much bigger miracles than that! 

We can pray to let go of the labels that other humans have given us. We can begin to acknowledge and accept the truths of how God labeled us in His Word: “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 KJV). We can listen for how we speak or think about ourselves and know that we are not praising God when we annihilate our positives and rehearse negative thoughts that become reality in our heart.

We have a Helper. He’s on standby. Just waiting for us to call Him in. We are not alone in this battlefield of the mind.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author:  Deborah McCormick Maxey Ph.D. “Re-tired” from her psychotherapy practice to be “Re-purposed,” writing Christian devotions, articles, and fiction. She features personal miracles monthly at deborahmaxey.com.

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, released this year. Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: With what labels do you struggle?

Deborah McCormick Maxey Ph.D. “Re-tired” from her psychotherapy practice to be “Re-purposed,” writing Christian devotions, articles, and fiction. Her debut book, The Endling: A Novel is available at Christian Books, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobel. She features personal miracles monthly at https://deborahmaxey.com/

Can Comparison Ruin Your Time with God?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“What did you want to be when you grew up?” our small group leader asked. One by one, people offered sensible vocations. “From the time I was a boy, I wanted to be an eye doctor,” my optometrist said.

“I wanted to be a preacher and pound the pulpit,” a Christian worker chuckled. 

The leader turned to me. Unlike the rest of the group, I couldn’t recall one serious aspiration and couldn’t bring myself to admit I’d wanted to fly like Peter Pan or ride horses and catch bad guys like Annie Oakley.

My second-grade teacher once wrote on my report card, “Debbie does good work but daydreams too much.” Didn’t all children carry fairies to school? Little did I realize these were clues as to how I would someday connect with God.

Do you feel like your relationship with God should look a certain way? Do you compare yourself with other people and berate yourself for not being like them? The Psalmist wrote, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14 TLB).

God made us multifaceted and different from each other. He didn’t create a bunch of sock dolls from the same ball of yarn. He knit you together in the perfect way to reflect His glory and display His creativity. If no two fingerprints are the same, why would we think God expects everyone to relate to Him the same way?

When my children were babies, our church had a place for nursing mothers to feed their infants. While chatting with another nursing mom, I mentioned the quiet time I spend with God at night. She straightened her shoulders, and huffed, “We are children of the light.”

If it is supposed to be darkest before dawn, I wondered why she boasted about meeting with God then! Maybe she’d never read God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Seriously, this woman’s rigid perspective showed in her countenance and outlook on life.

That’s why I appreciate hearing women from different ages and stages of life share how they connect with God.

One young mother and pastor’s wife, who grew up dancing, said music speaks to her. Today she uses music to direct her thoughts to God.

A busy working mom listens to a Bible app while she rides her stationary bike before dashing off to work. She uses car rides to share devotions with her teens.

Another gal prays when she walks her dog.

One of my romantic friends views her quiet time as a date. She looks forward to spending time with the One who knows all about her and wants to share life with her.

Another friend, a busy CEO, wife, mother, and volunteer in many ministries, starts her day with a Bible study and a kale/jalapeño smoothie! If she has to catch an early flight, she carries her devotional on the airplane.

An older widow sings hymns when the house grows dark.

For me, daydreaming contributes to my joy in studying and teaching the Bible. I like to put myself in the story and imagine how I’d have responded to those same circumstances. People in my audiences have told me those passages have come alive for them because of that perspective.

God tells us to delight in Him. That means spend time with the Lord in the way that draws you close to Him. Don’t be afraid to try different times of day and forms of Bible study. Just spend time with Jesus.

Take delight in the Lord. Psalm 37:4 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

TWEETABLE
Can Comparison Ruin Your Time with God? – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What helps you connect with God?

Our Words Matter

by Edie Melson

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24 ESV

 I love words. I take joy in reading a book where the author transports me to another place. I love movies and plays where the dialogue pierces my heart with healing truth. Most of all, I love it when my words bring comfort and joy to someone else.

God loves words too. In Genesis 1:1 we see how He speaks the world into being. In John 1:14 Jesus is referred to as “The Word became flesh…”. Throughout the Bible we see the power in words, and the warnings of the power—good and bad—they contain.

While I’m careful with the words I write and the words I speak to others, I discovered something else.

I’m not as careful when I choose the words I say to myself. I’m guilty of saying things to me that I wouldn’t allow someone to say to the worst person on earth. And all that negative self-talk can have a huge impact on me. With those cutting words comes a willingness to believe what’s being said. Believing the lies I spoke to myself was destroying me.

Maybe you do the same thing.

“I’m so stupid.”

“I should just quit, I’ll never amount to anything.”

“I’m ugly.”

“I don’t know why anyone would want to hang out with me.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

These lies are not from God, for His view of me is very different. When self-condemning thoughts like these cross my mind, the best anecdote is to speak God’s truth over the lie. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God has uniquely gifted me with an ability to serve Him and build up His Church (1 Corinthians 12:7). He delights in me (Psalm 149:4).

Statistics tell us that when we speak negative things to someone close to us, it takes anywhere from eight to sixteen positive things to outweigh one negative remark. We apply that statistic to our kids, our husbands, even our friends—but we ignore the fact that it also holds true when we’re speaking to ourselves.

The truth is, each of us is unique and precious to God. He paid the ultimate price to bring us back to Him. How can we despise what God esteems? Think about how different your outlook might be if you spoke respectfully to yourself?

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What negative thoughts plague you? What truth from God can help you combat those condemnations?