How to be More Confident in Your Identity in Christ Part 3: Removing Labels and Knowing Your True Name
Even if they baked okay, they wouldn’t taste okay.
They wouldn’t become what they were created to be.
Have you ever felt labeled - whether by the words of others, the pressures of culture, the lies of the enemy, or your own negative self-talk?
Labels & Lies
Labels feel so yucky because they stir up insecurities and stuff down our true identity in Christ.
Labels do this either by calling us something that defines us as not good enough - ugly, stupid, unwanted, failure - or by calling us something that we have to live up to - the pretty one, straight-A student, good girl.
In both cases, those labels are written by the lie that our identity, worth, and significance are found in our success and failures, and in other people’s opinions of us, rather than in Jesus.
The enemy wants us to be labeled and to believe those labels because he doesn’t want us to live as who God created us to be. He wants us to live according to the image of those labels, not according to the image of God in which we are created.
Over the years, there are different labels that have gotten stuck to my heart that made me feel not good enough, and there have been labels that I felt pressured to live up to in order to be good enough.
What labels have gotten stuck to your heart?
A New Name
One of my favorite stories in Scripture about finding freedom from labels is found in Mark 5:
A large crowd followed and pressed around [Jesus]. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
This story is a favorite of mine not just because of the miraculous physical healing, but because Jesus also heals the woman’s heart of shame and fear.
According to the Levitical law, this woman’s bleeding would have caused her to be ceremonially unclean, and anything or anyone that came into contact with her would have become ceremonially unclean as well.
So it’s possible, and probable, she lived a secluded and lonely life.
We don’t know much about this woman, but we know she suffered. Besides suffering from the physical affects of the bleeding, could she have also have suffered from the affects of labels and insecurities caused by that bleeding?
Along with the label of “ceremonially unclean”, maybe she also felt labeled as messy, broken, outcast, unwanted, alone, repulsive, or undesirable.
And as doctor after doctor couldn’t alleviate the suffering, maybe she also felt the labels of hopeless, unworthy, and abandoned being stuck to her heart.
Jesus was on His way to heal a little girl who was dying when this woman touched His cloak. Instead of continuing on His mission to heal the little girl, Jesus takes the time to stop and ask, “Who touched My clothes?”
Yes, the woman had been healed, but Jesus also wanted to set her free.
As she comes to Him and tells what had happened, she is trembling with fear. Maybe she fears the words that will be whispered over her by those in the crowd, words that confirm those labels of uncleanliness. Maybe she is afraid Jesus will be upset this unclean woman touched His cloak, and will still reject her as unworthy even though her bleeding has stopped.
But Jesus’ words don’t cast labels.
Jesus’ words confirm her healing, calling her by a new name and calling her to a new way of living: Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.
From Labeled to Named
What labels have been stuck to your heart?
In this story we see the woman go from being labeled to being named, and we learn how our own labels can be removed, and how we too can know our true name:
Look to Jesus
When everything else said hope was gone, the woman went to Jesus believing she could be healed with a single touch of His cloak.
And really, Jesus was the only one who could heal her - wholly heal her.
He is the only one who can wholly heal us - From the labels themselves, from the lies that feed them, from the hurt caused by them.
We need to look to Jesus as the healer of our insecurities, shame, and fear.
Listen to Jesus
Jesus said to the woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”
The word daughter comes from the Greek word thugater, and it used both of natural relationship and of spiritual relationship to God.
With His words, Jesus gave the woman a new identity, a new name that defined her by her relationship with God.
As we live in relationship with Jesus, we need to let Him be the One who defines us. Labels may still get thrown at us, but we don’t have to let them stick. We can choose to listen to Jesus and trust what He says about us.
Live for Jesus
Jesus went on to say, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
These words not only confirmed the woman’s healing, but called her to live differently than she had been.
She had suffered from the bleeding for 12 years. That’s 12 years of habits and routines and daily life that had been dictated by her suffering. If she would have gone on to still live in this same way, would she have really been free from the suffering?
Sure, the physical pain and inconvenience would have been gone, but she would still be living under the label of “unclean.”
We get to choose what “name” we’re going to live for: our own name of success or achievement, the name other people see us as, the name we’re expected to live up to, or Jesus’ Name.
In Christ, we don’t have to be defined by the lies of the enemy, the stereotypes of culture, the words and actions of others toward us, or our own self-criticisms.
We don’t have to live labeled, but can live named as daughters of God and disciples of Christ.