I was always conscious about what people thought of me. Sometimes (a lot of the times) I was guilty of trying to live up to peoples’ expectations of how I should be or act. A friend sparked something in my heart one day when she said, “I think you’re growing out of being a nice girl and really stepping into who God has called you to be.”
Many times, I have been labeled as the nice girl, someone who does no wrong and is always happy. I was seen as someone who was soft and gentle, but that image and perception is not entirely right. I sin, I get hurt, I get mad, and a lot of the times I am far from gentle. Sometimes, we have a certain “image” that we have been given and we feel as though we need to live and act a certain way because of it.
Sometimes, I found myself trying to react to a situation the way I thought others thought I should be reacting. Being labeled as the “nice girl” had kept me from feeling and expressing certain things, such as anger. I tried to avoid showing my anger or frustrations around others because I thought that someone who was “nice” should never be upset. I also thought I would be God-honoring if I avoided it. But to be God-honoring means to be honest with yourself and with God about how you feel and then trust that He will come through for you. Our labels will keep us from feeling and doing certain things because we think that it doesn’t match up with “who we are,” but we’re actually just limiting ourselves. Someone may be labeled as an athletic girl, but that does not mean they always have to be tough and cannot like make-up or enjoy dressing up.
Let me ask you this, what do you think you are labeled as? Are you also labeled as the nice girl or perhaps you are labeled as the mean girl, pretty girl, fat girl, flirty girl, shy girl, etc., maybe you feel like a combination of more than one label, but the list goes on and on. We are constantly striving to either change our labels or live up to them, but some of us do not understand that no label here on earth will ever truly define us. Whatever you feel or believe your label is, I pray that you will throw it out the window and accept this truth today; you are the beloved daughter of the Most High King. It is not a label; it is a fact, a truth that is unchangeable.Doesn’t that sound comforting and relieving? Often times, we take the words people say about us and tell ourselves that is who we are. We allow their words to define us, but we are so much more than those worldly labels. The only thing that should define us is the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. This truth will set you free from your labels and burdens of being something or someone you are not. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
If you are struggling with this, know that you are not the only one. In fact, many people if not all of us struggle with this, but few will own up to it. We want to be liked and loved by people, and that is because we are wired to desire deep and intimate relationships. Our desires for friendship and love should never put us in a place where we belittle and disregard ourselves though. The relationships that we have here on earth, in fact, should do the opposite. They should encourage, affirm, build us up, and allow us to grow and pursue Christ together. Our relationships should never make us feel unworthy, insecure, or invaluable because that is not the reason why God created us to have them. He blessed us with the opportunity to have relationships with one another so we can better understand His deep love for us by loving the people around us.
I do not think my friend realized how much she spoke into my life when she said that, but it made me reflect on a lot of things about who I really was. Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I confess that I wanted to please people, and I was striving to be someone everyone would like and love by being a nice girl, but I discovered that I was more than just a nice girl. I am a beloved daughter of God, and I only need His approval. I want to live life as His precious child and genuinely express myself and serve Him wholeheartedly. My heart is no longer striving because I’m at rest and at peace with who I am. I want my identity to be strongly rooted in who Christ says I am so that in the future I can overcome the urge to please others. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to find rest and peace with who you are in Christ as well.
By Emily Her. Originally published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 2.