There are so many labels out there. Mental Illness. Depression. Chronic Illness. Addiction. Pain. Grief. Loss. All of these names are fine in and of themselves. They are meant to help someone understand what they are dealing with. I know from experience that having a diagnosis is a great relief. You don’t have to wonder what’s wrong anymore – you finally have a word for it and a way to find help.
Those labels can cause a lot of problems, though. Those problems arise when we take those words and make them our identity – something that they were never meant to be.
I’m going to be using the label addiction as an example for the rest of this post. (I’m writing a novel about a personification of addiction, so it has been on my mind lately).
Say you have an addiction. You come to terms with it. You understand that addiction is your problem. You seek help. That’s all good. But then you get discouraged. Because you’re not over it. You’re not better right away. You’re struggling. And in those moments, it’s easy to take addiction on as your identity. It’s easy to think, “This is who I am now. I can’t ever escape it. It’s part of me. If I ever let it go, I would be without an identity. I would be nobody.”
Or you believe that you can never be more than your label. You believe that because you are ——— then you can never get past that or rise above it.
When our world is rocking around us, we cling to those things that have been with us forever – even if we hate them or are struggling with them or just don’t want to always be defined by them. We believe that we are addiction, that it’s the only thing that won’t leave or change. Same goes with any label that you have taken as your identity.
When labels become our identity, we fall into despair (EVEN IF THE LABEL IS SOMETHING GOOD). If we ARE addiction, we can never be freedom. If we are pain, we can never be healed. If we are grief, we can never be joy. Do you get what I’m saying here? We fall into black and white categories and we believe that we must stay in one and can’t be in both at the same time, when in reality, those categories that we see as opposites are really a lot closer than we think. Black and white thinking can lead to all sorts of trouble and internal pain, self-hatred and confusion.
If you’ve been labeled, you’ve gotta remember that you are not that word. You are not addiction. You are not depression. Pain. You are not all of those labels that you have been given. Yes, those things affect you (sometimes for good, sometimes not). Yes, they impact the way that you see the world (for better or worse). Yes, they have helped to shape you into the person that you are today. BUT THEY ARE NOT YOU.
Can I say that again?
You are not your labels!
A couple years ago, I made the mistake of taking a label and making it my identity. You know what happened? I was miserable. I wanted to get better. I wanted to be free and happy. But I was terrified that if I did let go of my label and get help, I would be left empty. I would be left without an identity. And that terrified me. So I held onto my label for far too long. I desperately wanted joy, but I was too scared to let go of my label. I believe that if I had, I would have found what I was longing for so much sooner.
Please, don’t make the same mistake that I made. Your identity never lies in words and labels – whether they are self-appointed or given by others. Your identity is found in Jesus. In who He says that you are.
In Christ you are….
Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16)
Child and heir of God (Galatians 4:7)
Ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Accepted (Romans 15:7)
Chosen (Ephesians 1:4)
New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)
Loved (1 John 3:1)
Not Condemned (Romans 8:1-2)
Freed (John 8:36 & Galatians 5:1)
Safe (Isaiah 41:10)
Delivered (Colossians 1:13)
Alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Seen (Psalm 139:16)
Brought from darkness to LIGHT (Ephesians 5:8)
And so much more! Never forget who you are, friends. ❤
Have you ever been assigned labels? Have you made them your identity? If so, how did you break free from them?