I’m only going to do this type of a forward ONCE this year: this is not part of “Allan’s Bootcamp” – in the future you’re going to have to notice I didn’t put the scriptures from the reading in the title (not that I mind if you read this too, that’s why I had a blog in the first place).

Moving on.

Last week we started a series at church called “identity”. To be completely honest, I heard the title and I was like “Oh, what a nice topic! Everyone needs to hear that once in their life. Why am I here, again?”

Well helllooooooo there pride. How have you been doing lately? I didn’t miss you. Anyway, I don’t remember much of last week, other than it was about image and how we are supposed to not be identified by our image.

Today, however, the message was about labels. At the beginning we all had to repeat this phrase with my pastor:

I am not what others say I am.

Ok, I realize this is a rather cliche, normal saying. But it especially hit hard today because I’ve been particularly struggling with this concept the last few days. Ok fine, the last few months. I always take what people say (or rather what they don’t say) and start to evaluate myself based on those – whether it’s good or bad (usually bad). I, and I know everyone else, tend to focus on the negative things I hear instead of the positive, even if the positive outweigh the negative 10 to 1. Even if I do end up focusing on the good parts, I start to blow up my own ego, which gets to the point I was at last week with that oh so un-wonderful pride cropping up.

The point of the sermon was that Jesus labels us too – and his label cuts through all the other ones we and the world throw at ourselves. His label? Forgiven. Forgiven is so much of a better label than anything else anyone could ever label me as. So much better than the horrid things I label myself as, so much better than the best compliment I could think of.

It isn’t easy for me to remember this – I fall into the trap of defining myself as what others say I am all the time. People don’t even have to say much, I read into things so much it’s almost like I want to be told something. But it doesn’t matter. I am forgiven. It doesn’t make sense, I don’t deserve it at all. But I’ve been gifted beyond my wildest dreams with this. Praise God!

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?
– Casting Crowns

Not only was this an home-hitting message, it was a humbling moment as I realized that there is always room for growth in Christ, I’ve never become perfect and I never am going to become perfect. It is a constant journey and battle to find my identity in “Forgiven”, instead of something else.