February 13, 2018

Labels

Have you ever noticed how obsessed we have become as a society with labels? Labels seem to be lurking everywhere. We have labels on our clothes, the food we eat, phone numbers, zip codes, cities, states, race, ethnicity, gender, pictures (i.e. # on social media), we label others and ourselves as successes, failures, winners, losers, pretty, ugly, fat, skinny and the list goes on.

I was recently listening to a Face-To-Face event with Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard and they started talking about this very subject. They cautioned against labeling ourselves and others. I haven't been able to find the exact quote, but Elder Oaks said in essence that the most important label we have is "I am a child of God." These remarks have caused me to do a lot of thinking, pondering and introspection. Do I label others? Do I label myself? Why do labels matter? Are they important? Do labels matter to God? Do I care how others label me? What's the big deal with labels anyways?

As I have contemplated these questions I was brought back to a time in my life that wasn't a very happy time. Growing up I didn't care what people thought or said about me, I marched to my own drum and did my own thing.

Sometime in college things changed. I found myself in situations I had never been in or ever imagined that I would be in. I didn't have a lot of space and I didn't have a lot of privacy at this time in my life. About this same time some people entered my life that I thought loved and cared about me-- hindsight is 20/20 and I was wrong about them loving or caring about me. These people made it a point on a regular basis to point out what they perceived as my flaws and weakness and compared them to their strengths. And they said a lot of terrible, awful things and cruel things about me not only to my face but behind my back to others. These remarks changed not only the way other people perceived me, they changed the way I saw myself.

My self-esteem and self-worth were pretty much gone at this point. I would look in the mirror and tell myself that "so and so says I am (insert put-down-of-choice here) so it must be true." I started to feel really down and defeated.

The mistake I made was that I didn't tell these people to stop it soon enough. And I didn't remove myself from the situations I found myself in fast enough.

Since that time I have been learning how to standup for myself. I have learned that it is okay to not associate with people, even family if they don't treat you kindly. It hasn't been easy to change my perspective. It hasn't been easy to regain myself esteem, but I have done it.

I have learned that what other people say about me doesn't matter. I am a daughter of God. My worth in His eyes never changes. He will always be there. His love is constant. He loves me for who I am and where I am in life and that is what is most important.

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