‘Do I look nice?’
My five year old daughter asks me this question A LOT. Usually I am wiping someone else’s mouth or zipping up a coat or wondering what the sticky stuff is on my hand and i’ll quickly reply ‘of course, you look lovely’. And I know this search for beauty and affirmation is perfectly normal. I know as long as princesses and pop stars are part of her world, my daughter will compare herself to someone else.
But lately, I have started to question the nature of the beauty my daughter is chasing. I wonder too about the labels she has inadvertently designed for herself and lives under- labels to do with beauty, value, perfection, success, worth and materialism.
And then, of course, there are the labels I have ‘helped’ to stick on. Perhaps to do with her appearance, but also her character, her personality, her hobbies and interests.
‘You can’t do that because…..’
‘You are so……’
‘You won’t like that, you are too …..’
‘You need to be more……’
It only takes one sentence to impact and shape what my children think about themselves. That is a scary thing. That is something I want to navigate carefully. There’s a big part of me that says, ‘just let this season play out’.
But the thing is – I really don’t want to put any labels on my children which they end up ripping off.
I want the labels that stay to be labels of love, labels of hope, labels of encouragement.
Then last Saturday morning, I went to the Kingdom Women event in Belfast and the speaker was encouraging us to think about the labels we own ourselves that might be prisons – fear, shame, insecurities, hopelessness, resentment, worthlessness. She helped us see these labels as lies that stop us from discovering the truth which sets us free.
What lies make it kind of hard for me to live loved? Here’s a few that rose to the surface;
- Too small – not only in stature but in influence, in capacity to bring change.
- Just a mum and housewife – a monotonous, mundane, meagre existence.
- Not intelligent enough – anyone can do what I do.
- Not successful enough- no salary.
- Not spiritual enough.
- Not pretty enough.
- Not creative enough.
- Not social enough.
And if I really put my mind to it, there are probably a few more that I’ve shoved down a little bit deeper.
I am who He says I am– not what I label myself. Jennifer Rothschild
And so I am thinking about what it might look like to flourish in the hands of my maker, to have a heart at rest. Because truly, my heart is often in pursuit of perfection and suffers from a lack of contentment and joy.
But I am drawn to this truth that God wants me to live ‘label free’ with a full measure of His grace. It is only possible to be brave and at peace and love well, because He enables it to be so. His love is perfect, despite how messed up mine is.
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7
It’s been three years since I ran any great distance. And during that time I lived under labels of ‘unmotivated‘, ‘unfit’ and ‘stuck in a rut’. But honestly, I do have the time to run, I have the physical ability and capacity required. I have the freedom to choose to do what is good for me, what keeps my one and only body fit and weirdly, what I enjoy!
Those labels were sort of keeping me prisoner to a lie that sounds like this; ‘You.Can’t.Do.It’. They were stopping me experiencing an element of self-care that I desperately needed. They were stopping me experiencing joy and a sense of well-being.
But they were not the sum of who I am. So I ripped them off.
- Running again is the result of ripping off a label.
- Joining a local parenting class is the result of ripping off a label.
- This shelivesloved blog is the result of ripping off a label.
And it feels good to journey a little bit further along the road to becoming label free. To realign my words, my actions and beliefs, again.