Stupid, Fat, Slut, Faggot, User: Labels Lie.

The following by Mike Foster comes from an article at Relevant Magazine about People of the Second Chance.

What is the worst name you’ve ever been called? Most likely, you can remember the term, as well as who said it, where you were and how it has impacted you over the years …

Labels lie in the way they characterize us. They strip our dignity and humanity. Labels dumb down the complexity of who we truly are. For many, they become the destructive foundation on which life is built. There are countless labels that deserve discussion, but here I want to tackle five, maybe in ways you’ve never considered before:

“Stupid”  

Calling someone stupid has a casual and lighthearted feel. It’s easy … But ask yourself this: if it’s a kid’s word, how do you think a kid would feel if called stupid? Would she be casual and lighthearted, or hurt and angry? Would he get the joke, or would it maybe shrink his self-esteem just a little bit? It’s hard to tell, because when it comes to labeling, it’s not about vulgarity or shock value, but about what the label says about the person being labeled.

“Fat”

Being called fat can be devastating for people. It represents more complex issues than we realize, and in a single, ugly word, we can trivialize a lifetime of pain … In a body-obsessed culture this three-letter word can fracture our fragile identity and self-worth. Our body matters to us and is the primary representation of how we want others to see us. That’s why this word can be so hurtful.

“Slut”

One of the worst things about labels is how they violate us. They make private things public, and they make false things sound true. Labels like “slut” are the worst of both worlds, deeply violating on both accounts. Slut hits you socially and morally, and like all truly nasty labels, it’s hard to defend against and refuses to go away. It turns people against the victim, and even makes allies disappear. It gets used against people who are already vulnerable and can lead to devastating outcomes.

Sexual labels seem to be one of our favorite ones to use these days. If someone can define your sexuality, they can then ascribe all the attributes that come with it. As human beings, we are context-seeking creatures. We need our boxes. We need our clarity. If we can take someone’s sexuality and place it in an understandable category, we feel at peace and our world is at balance again. And whether it be about labeling an individual’s sexual orientation or one night of infidelity, sexuality is reduced to simplistic stereotypes.

Labels

… devalue the victim and brainwash the user. They trick us into thinking there is a necessary barrier between us and them. But labels are never necessary, and never protect anyone from anyone else. They drive us apart in the worst ways, instead of bringing us together to heal with our collective strength.

I truly believe we reinvent the world by reinventing how we live. I want to live in world that refuses to label, stereotype or slap damaging words on others. That means guarding my words and not jumping to conclusions. It means speaking up when our society and our friends want to use labels. This vicious form of judgment needs to stop and it begins with you and me.

_________________________________________________

These words by Mike offer truth that so many of us struggle to accept, and many more choose to ignore: labels lie, we shouldn’t accept them, and should stop using them.

Who we are.  What we look like.  What we’ve done in the past.  None of this defines us.  The only thing in life that defines us is what our Creator has spoken over us: beloved, His, worth it, precious, redeemed, justified, adopted.  All the lies of the world around us are consumed by the single truth Jesus Christ proclaims over us.  In Him all lies are dispelled, all shame disappears, all guilt fades, all hope is attained, and second chances are possible.

What are the labels you need to throw away?

Me?  I continually toss aside the label: worthless faggot.  I trade my lie for God’s truth: beloved son of God.

[Mike Foster is the co-founder of People of the Second Chance and the author of Gracenomics: Unleash the Power of Second Chance Living. He serves on the executive team at PlainJoe Studios and lives in Southern California. For more information about the “Labels Lie” campaign, click here.]

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2 responses to “Stupid, Fat, Slut, Faggot, User: Labels Lie.

    • I am sorry that you endured that trauma, Dan. It blows my mind how a parent can say such things – or do certain things – to their children. Growing up, I faced harsh mental abuse from my mom. In fact, it still happens today. It’s been a long road of rejecting those things, and the things others have spoken about me, and replace the lies with God’s truth. I am a lot stronger than what I used to be, and I am in a better place than I once was. The promises of God’s word has brought much healing to my heart and mind. I pray that He continues to restore you just the same.

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