My identity is part of who I am, but who am I? What do I believe in? Do the “labels” I think of as “me” mean the same things to everyone else?
When labeling anyone, even ourselves, we need to be careful to think about what that word means to the world at large, not simply our own definition.
When I call myself a Christian, I mean that I am a sinner who is forgiven, that I am striving to walk in humility (though I fail), and that I need His strength because I am too weak to accomplish anything. To others the word “Christian” means something else entirely. To some, it means that I am a hater, and will cast judgment on others. It means that I am a hypocrite and holier-than-thou.
We need to be aware that whatever labels we think of as applying to us, unless we are all reading from the same dictionary, using the same definitions, are not talking about the same things. Whether you think of yourself as Christian or Atheist, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Gay or Straight, make sure that others know your definition of those words. Strive not to be offended if someone criticizes one of those labels. The odds are that their definition and yours are not the same. Also, if you lump yourself in with a group, make sure you believe in all the ideals of that group, not just some. For example, at one time I labeled myself as a Republican, and got angry when others ascribed beliefs to me that I did not actually hold to. The fault lay with me, not them, for applying that label to myself. Now that I have discarded that pre-made label, I no longer have to deal with the same issues. When asked about my political beliefs, I start with, “I am an independent, but I lean towards conservatism.” This allows me to explain what I believe in without having to waste time defending many perceived beliefs.
Though I strive for perfection, I know that short of Heaven, I will not attain it. I am an ugly, misshapen lump of clay, still wet with the miry groundwater from which I was drawn. But until my Creator places me in His kiln to declare His work on me done, that same wetness allows Him to shape me into what I will one day become: His vessel. Until then, I have to submit to His strong perfect hands guiding me to where I need to be. My ugliness, the misshapenness that others see comes from within me as I try to impose my will on His direction for me. But the soothing work of His direction and shaping, if allowed to continue without my own stubbornness and preconceived notions, will form me into whatever it is that He needs me to be.Read Day 20 Devotion by Cristy