Expired Labels

January 30, 2007

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. ~Mother Teresa

food_label_blur.jpgStroll down any aisle in your local supermarket, and you’ll find them there. Intense faces and crinkled eyebrows as people read the nutritional labels on food packaging. Often motionless, they stand scrutinizing calorie counts and grams of fat, the percentage of daily recommended allowances, and the elusive serving size per container. Whether we fully understand the data or not, we live in a convenient, label-centric society where the information we need appears on a nice, rectangular panel.

Even more important than counting carbs and grams of sodium, how do we know how long good nutrition will last? Well, there’s a label or stamp for that too. With “Use by”, “Best Before”, and “Sell by” dates, we can easily keep an eye on the calendar and judge if a perishable item is good for us or not.

How would a system of labels work for people? What if, before our birth, God stamped us with a label that disclosed everything He put in us. Others could plainly read what we are made of and who we are created to be. Easy right? For most of us, no matter how well-intended the Creator is, this labeling process would not work. Why? One reason — we all learn to make our own labels.

Ever see that car or truck where the owner has gone bumper sticker happy? This is a mirror image of how we travel through life, covered with layer upon layer of negative labels affixed by ourselves and others. Labels suffocating our self-image (“loser”, “dummy”, “pig”, “ugly”, “failure”, “nobody”) now smudge and cover the fingerprints of Divinity that are upon us. Our worth, our beauty, our purpose as foreseen by our Creator — concealed by the glue of misguided perceptions.

Other negative labels may seem honest and fair, but do not account for the fact that we are works in progress, maturing at our God-ordained pace. Have you ever seen an unfinished house with a sign in front that reads, “No toilets installed”? Or, how about a realtor’s sign for a home for sale that says, “Buyer not approved for loan yet”. Would we not “label” these signs as ridiculous alternatives to “Under Construction” and “Under Contract”?

Yet, with permanent adhesive, we painstakingly wear the labels of our process (“mischievous”, “hypocrite”, “liar”, “proud”, “troublemaker”) without the knowledge that these labels are expiring, and we are already forgiven. Who you are now, or even then, is/was not the real you. Just scrape off a few layers of labels and the glorious identity of God and how He sees you will begin to shine through.

So, how do we begin the daunting task of removing labels, without scuffing our surface or leaving ourselves covered with half-peeled strips? First, we must understand the rules of the game. Just as Sara Lee cannot label Betty Crocker products, any label that does not originate from our Creator is ILLEGAL. Our truth is never characterized by labels conceived of others. Second, we must practice being gentle with ourselves, rejecting self-criticism, and know our worth. Spritzing our hearts and minds often with droplets of Love will loosen the grip of our faulty labels. Finally, for those persistent labels that refuse to be removed (or we refuse to let them go), no worries. In this scenario, God stamps us with a Divine expiration date called, “Best AFTER…” There’s a time and season beyond our understanding when every illegal label, no matter how accurate or befitting — It will expire!…On its own, no scraping or picking needed on our part. We will learn from our life lessons and grow through our process — if we remain willing to do so.

Starting now, let’s release the need to label ourselves and others. For we are all best sellers, with a non-perishable purpose, defined by the recipe and ingredients hand picked for our lives by God.


One Response to “Expired Labels”

  1. […] would be easy if we all walked around inside-out LOL. Or with our ingredients proudly displayed down our backs.  That’s one thing we can’t do. We can’t open […]

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