“Some of these other labels we feel justified in using because they are diagnoses we – or others we know – have received. But let me make this very clear. When a doctor diagnoses someone with an illness or a disease, it is a diagnosis of what they have, not who they are.” – From Not What The Label Says
It has always irritated me when people quote themselves and actually put their name on it, so I decided to just put the name of the post this quote is from! Ha. 🙂 However, it was a point I wanted to bring back up, so there you have it. 🙂
As you can see in the picture above, I have a seed packet of Oktoberfest Calendula seeds. (Fun Fact: Calendula are closely related to Marigolds.) I know what kind of seeds are in the packet because of its label. The packet is still sealed, and so I have not planted those seeds. If I did, Oktoberfest Calendula plants would grow – assuming I had them in the right conditions. But if they just sit in the packet, what happens? They won’t grow.
I will tell you right now that this is an imperfect analogy. But stick with me, I’m making an important point.
When we have a label placed on us, it is so easy to make it a part of our identity. But what if we didn’t plant those seeds? What if we refused to accept the label as part of who we are?
Let’s look at it another way. If your doctor tells you that you have a cold and you should go home, get plenty of fluids and rest, would you accept that having a cold is part of your identity? “Hi, I’m Misty and I have a cold. I will probably always have this cold. If you don’t like it, tough cookies, because this is who I am now.” If this is what you would do, we may need to take you to a different kind of doctor!
For years I struggled with severe anxiety and depression. I was so sick that I did accept it as part of my identity. I hated that part of me. I even asked God to either heal me or kill me. He did neither, and I was so angry. I thought I would be miserable my whole life – either in the middle of an episode, or constantly in fear that another episode would begin. It wasn’t until seven months ago that I discovered the cause of my anxiety and depression (more on this topic on down the road). I changed what was causing these things, and I haven’t had an episode since. That said, it doesn’t work that way for everyone. Some people deal with it their entire lives – just like some people deal with physical illnesses (diabetes, for example) their entire lives. And it’s not their fault. It’s the way their brains are hard-wired.
In my case, it was the situation I was in that was causing my illness. When I asked God to heal me or kill me, it was grace that stayed His hand. Had He healed me then and there, it would have been temporary because the circumstances making me sick hadn’t changed. And had He taken my life, my girls would be motherless, my sister would be sister-less, my parents would have only one daughter, and I would not be here today. I will come back to this story eventually, but for now, let’s get back to labels.
I am a firm believer that even if if your struggle is lifelong, it does not have to be a part of who you are. I will not say that keeping your identity separate is easy, because that is simply not true. But as the Bible says in Philippians – we can do all things through Christ’s strength.
A quick note – in the same way that we can choose not to plant certain seeds in our lives, there are seeds that we can – and should – plant and nurture. Seeds like love, hope, faith, kindness, integrity, and many others. And there is no better way to do this than to spend time in God’s Word and His Presence every day. It doesn’t have to be for a certain length of time. You don’t have to read a certain number of chapters or verses. Start where you can and be faithful. You’ll find that it grows on its own.
And for any readers who may not be followers of Christ, I invite you to meet Him today. If that’s not something you’re interested in, I will tell you what I tell my daughters. I can’t make you believe in God. I can’t make you choose to follow my convictions. I can share them with you, but ultimately you must make your own choice. Do your own research – and I am not referring to a Facebook or Instagram poll, haha – and figure out for yourself what you do believe. I would hope that you would choose Christ because the Bible makes it clear that He is the only way, but that is between you and God.
Not all of my posts will be strictly about God and my relationship with Him, but I won’t keep Him out of them, because He is a part of my identity. The biggest part. And I won’t apologize for that.
If you are struggling with labels that have become part of your identity, or if you are attempting to prevent this from happening, feel free to drop me a line. I will pray for you.
Don’t give up and don’t give in. You are worth more than you can ever realize.