Labels that DON’T stick

Christian.

Woman.

American.

Sex.

Human.

Love.

Labels…. They have the ability to either enable understanding or confine broad abstract concepts into little teeny tiny boxes that can actually prohibit true understanding. Depending on our own experiences, perception, etc…. one can associate those words with a variety of concepts from confining to freeing and from flawed to perfection. The power that labels have over us can be life altering. Think about what your nickname was as a child or maybe a quality or attribute you were usually praised for (or scolded against). Our entire concept of who we are is based on labels. Our fragile identities can be found in these words that have inconsistent meaning. When we ponder the origin of spoken and written language, people had feelings, ideas, and concepts they wanted to express. The first documented writings were created to explain concepts, rather than specific words. Cave paintings, heiroglyphics, cunieform (first written language) were all created to record concepts. Why is all of this important? Because in this 21st century American culture inundated by marketing and branding, we tend to box (or bottle) up the most abstract ideas into one cute little catchy logo, catch phrase or tradmark. We have become such a shallow, surface oriented society that if I were to label myself as a Conservative Christian or a Feminist Liberal,  all types of bells and whistles will begin to go off in your mind, making snap judgements about my personality, my political values, my ethics, my sexual orientation, my parenting style, my music, my clothes, my religious views, etc, etc, etc…. This is why I typically try to steer clear from using the label of Christian too often, because I don’t want people to judge me based off of some sterotype. Are there truths to stereotypes and labels? Absolutely. Can they be useful? Well, that depends on how you choose to use them. If your heart is one that seeks understanding, then labels are crucial to be able to identify and organize information. However, if your heart seeks to judge, then labels will almost always be used negatively in a way that brings down the person it is placed on and will confine understanding to be shallow, at best.

Truth be told, we have all placed some of the most damaging labels on one of the deepest areas of our lives and that is our spirituality. Spirituality is what connects our physical bodies with the unseen, abstract, intangeable forces in the universe. Let’s talk about LOVE. We’ve all experienced it in some form or another. We’ve all physically felt the effects of it. We all know, beyond a shadow of a doubt how real it is. And yet, this concept is nothing we will ever be able to place our hands upon and say, “oh, so this is love.” We only know what love looks like through the actions of others. We also know what love does NOT look like through the actions of others. One thing that is 100% true is that love exists. How do we know? We just do.

The same can be said about spirituality. We are born with a thirst and hunger for knowledge and understanding. My little guy (2.5 yo) just LOVES to ask me questions about EVERYTHING! He wants to know why, why, why. Why is the dog licking his butt? And why do I have to brush my teeth? Why do worms wiggle? Where did I get this toy from and who bought it for me? These questions are drivin by his own human nature to understand his little world. As he grows older and taller, his world will grow deeper and more complicated. The subject of the questions will transform from toys and bugs to sex and drugs. He will want to know more about who he is as a person and his reason for existing in this world. All I can do is draw of off my own personal experiences to offer him the best truth that I can, given my own limited understanding. One thing is for sure, he will not only want to know what mommy and daddy believe, but being the spiritual being he is, He will set out on a quest for the rest of his life to develop his own personal understanding. He will have children of his own, and he will explain his understanding. And so it is the circle of life, the core of our humanity that continually drives us to ask these questions. We read countless books to gain insight and understanding to these questions, yet rarely do we come to the conclusion that one cannot ever gain such deep insight from another human until we are connected to the only authentic source of truth. Whatever label you want to slap on him, Jehova, God, Jesus, Immanuel… he is who he is.

Now, here’s a little bit of understanding about truth. There are 2 types of truths: Universal and Personal. A universal truth is something that is absolute and every single person has experienced it, whether or not you knew what it was called. For example, love exists. This is a truth. How do you know? You’ve experienced some form of it in your life. Gravity – both a truth and a law. It exists, it works, every time without fail and you cannot escape it. A personal truth is something that you’ve experienced first hand in your lifetime and so, it has become true to you. For me, I have learned that worrying over the details of my life will only make me focus on them that much more, thus, missing out on everything around me. So the truth is, worrying doesn’t make things better. Ever. Should I be concerned with my future? Absolutely. And there are practical ways to put that thought into practice. But worrying (which entails overthinking, analyzing, debating, focusing and concentrating solely on one thing that I have no ability to change) is useless. Takes energy away from more important things. There are an unlimited number of truths that exist, and my own personal truths are the one’s that I have actually experienced. Many of us have personal truths that do not line up with actual or universal truths. If this is the case, we may be living within a false reality. For example, let’s say a woman was raped and so she has deemed all men to be disgusting, vile creatures. This may not be a universal truth for every man that exists, but for this woman, it is (and rightfully so). However, here’s the great dichotomy… when our personal truths do not line up with the universal truths, we are not living in reality. In short, we are not living in truth. We are actually living in a false reality. I have lived most of my life in a false reality. It’s not a happy place. Actually, it’s hell on Earth. Which is probably why so many of us want to commit suicide these days. We are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually living in our own hell. This is why we become addicted to anything that appeals to us, drugs, sex, food, money, relationships, vanity, the list is unending. We are constantly fueling the fire to this false reality. But the effects of the reality are true. And they do exist. The effects are very real. But the mind, the thinking behind it is not based on truth.

So what is truth? Pilate asked that very question to Jesus before handing the messiah over to be murdered. If you care at all about this question, if you care at all to understand the deeper things in life, then open your mind and heart to listen. Don’t get caught up in the labels of religion. Learn to think independently, on your own. Try to drown out the voices of some crazy televangelists in your mind. Tell your mind to just be quiet for a few minutes and try to think about how you truly feel about what I’m saying. Make your opinions, thoughts or judgements your own. And by all means, if you don’t agree with or believe what I’m saying, I emplore you to simply connect with your creator and allow HIM to guide you to truth. You may be surprised at how much you actually do believe in the God of the bible.

#1 Truth:
God is real.

Whether you consider him “the universe,” “the almighty,” “goddess,” the concept of God is real to everyone. Something greater than a human exists. The world seems to work together like a perfect system, and somehow or another, this amazing planet and all that lives on it, was created by “something.” That “something” has to be a designer. There is some feeling, something within us that feels a connection to all of creation (people, animals, the earth, universe). Why do you think that is?

If you don’t believe this as true, then no other truths will ever make sense to you.

Biblical truths –
God is love
God is light
God has authority over nature
God gives us life
God is a judge
God will judge good and evil
God can and will judge the words, hearts, thoughts and actions of those who have chosen to have no relationship with him
God will not judge, but will have grace on those who love him, regardless of how bad they mess up
God is found in everything that is created (people, animals, nature, heavens, universe)
He is in us, we are in him
Continual connection to him will bring peace, love, ability to love the way that he does, contentment
Faith is the only way to connect to God
God knows us inside and out
God has compassion on us and wants to heal us from the inside out
The heart is full of selfishness
What’s in our hearts will become our thoughts, which becomes our actions and inevitably our character
God wants us to focus our thoughts on him so he can change our hearts, our actions, and character
We reap what we sow (cause / effect)
We cannot see truth without God
We cannot truly understand another’s actions because only God has access to their hearts and minds
We should be careful to form opinions of others because we do the very things that we hold against others for doing
We need to have grace with others because we need it as bad as they do
We cannot know something is wrong unless we are told (laws)
Once we are told something is wrong and still do it, we are being rebelious (sinning)
God wants us to have obedient hearts toward him without being robots (free will)
God will discipline his children (those who listen to him and have a relationship with him)
God will use the bad things of this world to create something beautiful for those who love him
God has the ability, power and authority to destroy us, but instead chooses to love us
God feels the pain of your rejection
God is the only true source of wisdom and knowledge because he knows all
What goes up must come down, what goes down will be brought up (humility vs. pride)

These are literally only a handful of truths that I have learned from reading the bible and I will one day attempt to create an exhaustive list, but I don’t even think that would be humanly possible.

When you think of the label “bible,” were these some of the concepts that came to mind? Do these truths ring true to you? Perhaps there are some truths found on that list that are not true to you. I would only suggest that you would soften your heart to open the lines of communication with God so that HE would make these truths true to you. If you don’t believe God exists, you will never experience the immeasurable amount of blessings he has in store for you. And I don’t suggest these are material blessings at all, but spiritual ones that will get your mind and heart right. Don’t let religion get in the way of your relationship with God. He came down to Earth to free us from religion. Don’t know if you learned that in Sunday school, but that’s exactly what he did. All the religions kept God in this nice, neat little box. But when God came here, he didn’t meet their expectations. He fought the religious and lost. They killed him because he was against these labels. The labels placed chains around people’s hearts and enslaved them to their man made concepts. God freed us from slavery and all you have to do is believe that and your life will be changed forever.

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