Bobby Flay’s cat has more Instagram followers than I do. This fact plays havoc on my self-esteem. As someone who battles the constant torment of comparison, the fact that a celebrity feline makes a bigger splash in people’s lives speaks only to my own self-judgement; I can’t help but condemn myself.
I once sat with an elderly gentleman who told me that whenever he would step out of line, his father would wag his finger and declare “God will get you for that.” He heard this phrase so often that it stuck with him, becoming the very basis of his picture of God. Despite his years in the church, the countless sermons he listened to, and the hours spent in prayer and ministry, he couldn’t unhear a message of condemnation. It was like a bell that could not be un-rung.
God’s love is not an emotion which colors our life with rainbows and roses. The love of God doesn’t produce the spiritual equivalent of a school-yard crush. God’s love is deeper than that, more expansive, and more transformative.
Labels sap our spiritual vitality because they mask our truest selves. They attempt to convince us of a reality that is simply not true. We are not our labels
Suddenly, without notice, the ugliness of life came and stopped me in my tracks. I felt unable to pray, the words simply would not come. I felt alone and abandoned. I pictured that great cloud of witnesses as eerily silent.
Labels are a fickle thing. They do not describe what, or whom, they are intended to describe. Instead, they speak only of preconceptions, assumptions, and judgements. Is anyone truly the label they are associated with? If I’m not progressive enough for the progressives, or evangelical enough for the evangelicals, what does that make me?