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ACW

Monday, 5 December 2016

Get That Label Off! by Janey Clamp

Something happened a few weeks ago that prompted a chain of thought that has continued unbroken - but sporadic, if you know what I mean - since then. I had bought a bunch of flowers from the supermarket for a friend's birthday present. It had one of those two-part sticky labels, with the price on the lower section. I tried to peel it off but it only came away in tiny gluey fragments, leaving the whole thing looking a complete mess whilst still advertising how little much I had paid for it. Contemplating removing the cellophane completely, but leaving me with the horror of having to do something else with them (flower arranging being not my forte), I decided instead to peel the whole label off from the top. It came away completely cleanly - price, description and plant care, the lot.


In marvelling at this revelation, and regretting the previous ten minutes I had wasted, I felt God say, "It's not just how much you're worth that needed removing. I don't want you to wear any labels at all."

I guess we all wear them: badges that identify us. Some have been placed there by others, sometimes a very long time ago; some we've pinned on ourselves. All are invisible until someone "pushes our button" in that area and the metaphorical pin drives into our skin, causing pain and over-reaction. For a long time, I used to repeat a phrase that had been spoken "at" me by my ballet teacher when I was about ten. She was a nasty woman and a poor judge of character but at the time I had believed what she said. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I saw it for what it was: a badge that I had got used to wearing but didn't half chafe at times. When God takes something like that away, it feels like a massive burden lifted.


When I hear God's voice, it never fails to strike me how gently He speaks. He is not rude or confrontational - although of course He does challenge. He is not driven by an ugly agenda or needing to exert power or control. People, on the other hand, are another matter entirely. How cruel can be the labels they brandish, and how much damage they inflict!

God promises to give us a new name. (I asked Him once what my new name was. It's a doozy - you should try it.) He gives us a new badge that shows He has claimed us for Himself. Thinking back to the bunch of flowers, I don't need something that shows how much I'm worth, or what I am or how I should be cared for. God has got all that covered. All I have to do is be grateful and get on and enjoy the life He's given.





Jane Clamp is Creative Writer in Residence on the Sunday Breakfast Show at BBC Radio Norfolk, and on the Thought of the Day team at Premier Radio.

10 comments:

  1. Beautifully said Jane and something I needed to hear today. Perfect timing

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  2. True true true. But oh so hard to remember!

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    1. But it feels good for those few moments we do remember!

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  3. I always think I've done well until I go back to my original home town where my 'relations' live. Then I shrivel into the strange, weird, not-quite-normal person that I have always felt labelled there. They know almost nothing of - and are quite uninterested in - all the facets of my life and I long ago gave up trying to explain. My dear old Dad used to ask me at least three times a year: 'But what is it you actually do?' When I began to explain, he always changed the subject after less than a minute. My writing exploits are pretty well ignored. I gave my sister a copy of my first novel for her birthday one year. She has never yet mentioned it and I don't know if she ever read it. Thankfully, my in-laws are not at all like that and nor are my three daughters and their kids. But, every time I set out to make our monthly visit ( which is today!), I get that labelled (and caged) feeling.

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    1. I can identify with a lot of that, Fran. Increasingly I choose what God thinks about me. He's the only one on the planet who completely gets me! Knowing that He understands, loves and accepts does help make it a bit easier when other people seem simply not capable of it.

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  4. I'm allergic to labels. I have been cutting one out of a garment today and restitching the seam by hand. (Past continuous- it took time.) Pet gripe - why make a garment out of natural fibres and then add a man-made prickly label?
    I think the current trend to label people instead of accepting them quirks and all is particularly unhelpful. "Loved by God" is perhaps a one-size fits all label. Sue

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    1. What a wonderful thought: being loved by God as one size fits all. Brilliant! I might pinch that....

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  5. How right you are! Human labels are so irrelevant to him. How we are going to laugh at ourselves when we hear his view of them. And equally how right about God's gentleness. We don't realize the half of what he's like...

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    1. I agree, Edmund. Thanks for commenting.

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