If you walked into a room full of people you had never met, how would you describe yourself?
Many of us have been stuck with labels that are difficult to move past. They are words that were bestowed on us as we grew up. If you were called “quiet”, you might grow up afraid of speaking up or taking leadership roles. If you were called a “bully”, you might actually become a bully, putting your own feelings above other people’s. If you were called an “athlete”, you might try out for sports with more confidence than someone who was called clumsy. Our ambitions naturally follow the labels we believe.
Max Lucado illustrated this idea powerfully in his children’s book You Are Special (If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend checking out this read aloud).
The story is about a wooden boy named Punchinello who lives in a village where everyone labels each other with a star or a dot sticker. For each talented and wonderful thing you do, you get a star. For every trip-up or inadequacy, you get a dot. Once stuck, the stickers always stick so that everyone knows who should be praised and who should be outcasted.
Isn’t that just like us?
We easily turn life into a competition, labeling each other and competing for approval, turning friends into enemies, but the truth is we’re all trampling over each other in the pursuit of one thing: to know that we are loved and valuable for who we are.
And that’s just silly, because there is plenty of love to go around. But it’s not found in other people.
Punchinello discovers that he is valuable when he visits the only person whose opinion matters: his creator, Eli. When he meets with Eli every day, something miraculous happens: his stickers stop sticking. For the first time in his life, he is only defined by his relationship with the person who loves him most.
When was the last time you visited with your Creator?
God is the only one who fully knows you, and he had a beautiful plan when he made you. David wrote in Psalm 139:14: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Did you catch that last part? Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
YOU are a work of God. YOU are wonderful. Not because of anything you have done, but because of who He is. Therefore we praise Him!
Let that sink in for a life-changing moment.
And then in Galatians 4:7, we are given another promise that further defines our lives: “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
This is amazing news! As a child of God, you don’t have to strain to meet impossible worldly standards. As a child of God, you are not a slave to labels about your talents, accomplishments, failures, personality, sexuality, or past or present sins. Instead, you are defined by your adoption by your Creator, which promises your inheritance of eternal life with Him.
As this new school year gets underway, make time to visit with your Creator every day. Let him take off the sticker labels so that you can walk free in the unconditional love of your Savior. He loves you just as you are, and you are wonderful!
Heavenly Father, thank you for making me your child. Thank you for seeing me and loving me for who I am, not because of what I do. Help me to stop labeling other people and instead show them grace. Help me not to crave other people’s approval but to seek only yours. I am perfectly and wonderfully made in your eyes! In your name, I pray, Amen.