Labels. We all wear labels. Some labels are good; some not so good. Some have a negative impact on the way we view ourselves, on the way we think others see us. Others give us the confidence to walk forward, believing we are worthy of the good things in life. Some tell us we have a bright future, one filled with hope for a better tomorrow. Some tell us our lives are over, our future will never rise above our current circumstances.
I’ve worn a number of labels throughout my life. I was the smart girl growing up, the class valedictorian who always knew the correct answer. I was the family klutz as a preteen. Every time someone made a mess, the instant response was, “You pulled a Dena.” I was the chunky, awkward kid with crooked teeth until I was a teenager and grew out of that stage (Praise God!). I’ve been known as a goody-goody, a teacher’s pet, a pastor’s wife. I’ve been a friend, a mentor, an encourager. And, perhaps my favorite label of all-time is that of mom to my three precious kids.
But the label I’ve worn for seven years now is divorced. It’s a label that has had a huge impact on my life. It’s a label that affects my daily life. It’s a label that automatically brings stereotypes to mind. It’s a label that affects how others see me, how I see myself. It’s a label that changes my present and future, even changes the way I see my past.
And, it’s a label that still stings. Even after seven years, it still hurts to see that label associated with my name.
Divorce will always be a part of my life, a painful chapter of my life. But it does not define who I am, what I am about. Instead of wearing the label of divorce—a man-made label imposed upon me, I want to wear labels God has chosen for me. When He looks at me, He doesn’t see the giant “D” hanging around my neck. Instead, He sees one of His children, a dearly loved daughter of the King.
And I want to see myself the way God sees me.
What does God see when He looks at me? If He doesn’t see divorce, what words does He use to label me?
But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love… Nehemiah 9:17b-18 NLT
Jesus Christ came to offer us forgiveness, a once and for all sacrifice for our sins. When He hung on that cross, He took our sins—every single one from the day we were born until the day we die—upon His own body. He suffered the excruciating pain, the humiliation, the separation from God so we don’t have to.
God counted you worthy of forgiveness. He only asks us to confess our sins, and He promises He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). All unrighteousness. Not some. Not everything except divorce. He’s not selective. Christ’s blood covers you—completely.
Remember that we are the people you chose long ago, the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession! Psalm 74:2 NLT
When Christ went to the cross for our sins, He paid a ransom for us. He purchased our freedom—freedom from the bonds of sin, of death. He paid a great price, the life of His son for us. And why did He redeem us? Why did He pay a ransom? Because of His great love for us. Because He wanted us as His own special possession.
God the Father exchanged His only son for us, sending Jesus Christ to die for us so we could live in eternity with Him. Have you really contemplated that? Can you imagine sending your child to die in someone else’s place?
Your label is redeemed. Loved so much He bought you with the life of His own son. There is truly no greater love than the love He has for us.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
If you’ve been through adultery and divorce, I’m sure you’ve felt it: rejected, unloved, unlovable. You’ve been thrown away like trash, made to feel as if you’re not good enough. You’ve faced the heartache of feeling as if your entire marriage was a lie, that you were worthless, a complete failure.
But God says you are chosen! Out of everyone on the face of the earth, He has chosen you. Chosen you to be His child. Chosen you to be loved by Him. Chosen you to be His own special possession. Chosen you to be a light to the world. Chosen you to fulfill His purpose on this earth. Chosen you to be the recipient of His blessings. Chosen you to participate in His plan. Chosen you to be an heir of the incredible riches that are ours in Christ Jesus.
God looked down from heaven and said, “That one! She is mine! My treasured possession! My royal princess! I want to adopt her into my family! I want to pour out all of my love and blessings on her!”
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Rembrandt. DaVinci. Monet. Michelangelo. They were the great artists of the Renaissance. Their paintings are valuable, masterpieces. They sell for millions of dollars and hang in the most prestigious museums.
But the master artist is God himself. He created the universe. Every sunrise is His painting. Every sunset shows His palette of beautiful colors. The beautiful mountains stand, pointing back to His majesty. The oceans stretch before us, reflecting every ray of sunlight, appearing as if He Himself is shining down from heaven. His creative powers are infinite, beyond anything we could ever imagine. He fashioned the sun and moon, the oceans and mountains, the stars and the planets.
And He fashioned you. He put together all of the genes in the specific combinations that make up your DNA. He knew the color of your hair and eyes long before you were knit together in your mother’s womb.
You are a masterpiece. A one of kind created by the master artist.
Child of the King
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 NLT
Do you have children of your own? My children are the most important people in my life. They are my heart and soul, the joy of my life. They are the most important accomplishment I have ever had, will ever have. When my kids are happy, I’m happy. When my kids hurt, I hurt.
God is our heavenly father, the one who reaches down in love and adopts us as His own. As any great parent, He hurts when we hurt. He delights in our happiness. He cries when we cry. He laughs when we laugh. He loves to lavish us with great gifts, gifts of peace and love and joy and grace. Nothing makes Him happier than to see us walking in the truth, wearing the labels He picks for us.
The King of kings has chosen us to be His children, His royal prince or princess. We are royalty because we have been chosen as part of His family.
And so much more.
It would take an entire book to walk through all of the labels God has for us, the things He sees when he looks at us. Friend. Righteous. Complete. Accepted. Free. There’s no end to the titles He gives us. And they are all good. They all give us hope for a beautiful future, a promise He will redeem even the most painful and devastating losses we experience. Nothing we experience can ever separate us from His love, from His grace. Nothing can condemn us because there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:1).
When I graduated from college, I was awarded summa cum laude honors. After all of the graduates crossed the stage and were awarded their degrees, the summa cum laude graduates were called up one by one. We were presented with hoods by faculty members as we were introduced to the overflow crowd.
My dad is not a particularly emotional person. He is more of the strong silent type, a rock upon which we all lean. I will say that raising three daughters softened him up some, but he is not one to express his emotions. I always knew my dad was proud of me…even if I didn’t hear it very often.
But, on that May day in 1993 when I crossed the stage to accept my degree, I looked out across the sea of people filling Raley Chapel on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University. There, about half-way back on my right, was my family. They stood to indicate they were with me, that they were my family. The look of pride on his face is forever etched in my mind. I can still see his face, literally glowing, radiant with joy as he watched me accept the honors I had worked so hard to earn. There was no doubt whatsoever of what he was feeling, of the pride emanating from him that day.
And you? Just as my dad stood that day to honor me, immeasurable pride shining for all to see, your heavenly Father is standing in your honor. He is looking at you, proud of who you are and who you are seeking to become. He sees the struggles you have faced, the work you have put into becoming who you are. He knows the hurt and pain you have endured, the endless prayers you have prayed for your marriage and family. And He looks at you, with pride and joy emanating from his face, as He proudly proclaims, “That is my child!”