On Stickers…

stickersWhen I lived in Japan, I heard it almost daily: “You are very large, aren’t you?” I was much heavier then. But I am sure I would hear it there even today since I am built like my northern European ancestors and always will be.

In the States, I most often hear, “You’re so loud!” Sometimes it is a compliment. Other times it is a dig. But the reality is that God has given me a voice that carries and a personality that loves to laugh – and laugh loud.

Here in Guatemala, it seems to be about my age. To a kid in elementary school, 49 is on the edge of dead. To my millennial friends it is about the same. And on the other side of things, my friends going through menopause seem anxious to share all that lies in my near future.

Gray dot stickers.
That’s what Max Lucado would call those labels.
Fat. Loud. Old.
Gray dot stickers.

In his children’s book, “You are Special”, he writes about a wooden person named Punchinello who lives in Wemmicksville. All wooden Wemmicks like to give each other gray dot stickers if they think something is wrong and yellow star stickers if they like what they see. Punchinello is covered with gray dots until one day he meets Lucia, a Wemmick with no stars or dots. He cannot figure out why they don’t stick to her. People try to give her compliments or cast aspersions, but either way, they don’t stick. She tells Punch it is because she spends time with Eli, their Maker. And after visiting Eli, Punchinello finds out that the only opinion that really matters is that of his Maker. And he discovers that because he was made by Eli, he is special.

Such a simple, simple truth.

And yet every day I see people of all ages who are wrecked by the stickers.
They constantly wonder what other people think of them.
They crave compliments and recognition.
And they hate that they crave it.
They wither under a negative comment.
And they hate that they wither.

I have been there.
Still am some days.

But here is what I have discovered: freedom.
The Truth is that what you think of me does not matter.
There is only One opinion that matters. Only One who is allowed to say, “That needs to change”. And only One who constantly tells me wonderful Truths about me.
Because the bottom is that real life and what really matters is NOT. ABOUT. ME.

In the original languages of the Bible, the word “glory of God” is actually better translated the “evidence of God.”
I was not created so that you would be impressed with the evidence of me.
How skinny I am.
How soft-spoken.
How young (which, in our culture, means how beautiful).

I was created so that you would see the glory of GOD. The EVIDENCE OF GOD.
Since He designed me, it is about Him.
Since He created me, it is for His sake that I exist.
Since He is the Lord of All that exists, HIS is the ONLY opinion that matters.

And when I really believe that, really soak that in, really live that, then Lucia is right: the stickers don’t stick.
Does a compliment feel good? Sure.
Do harsh words wound? Yes.
Do I appreciate being appreciated? Of course.
Do I want people to enjoy being around me? Yes.

But do I find my identity there? No.
I find out who I am in Christ.
And I let who HE says I am be the answer to every compliment – and every dig.

So here’s a refresher on who He says we are.
But a caveat here – much of this list applies only to the person who has accepted the gift of salvation that Jesus offers. Any one can accept the gift – and if you have, this is the Truth about you:

You are loved. Not because of anything you have done or not done. Not because you are good at something or you did something good. You are loved as a mother loves her tiny, helpless newborn who has done nothing but cause her 9-months of discomfort and hours of agony in birth. You are loved simply because you are His kid.

You are forgiven. There is no condemnation for you. There is no shame. He is not keeping score of how many times He has forgiven that offense. Yes, He longs for you to be free from sinful choices – but not for His sake. For yours! He is not holding out on you because of your past. He doesn’t ever look at you and think, “Hopeless”. He looks at you with longing and offers you all the power He has for you to live for Him. And WHEN you blow it, He forgives again.

You are liked. I think A LOT of Christians nod their heads with the first two but struggle with this one. God delights in you. He “gets” you. He understands your jokes. He knows just how you feel even when you don’t. He rejoices over the tiniest steps you take. And He is cheering you on in this race that is the Christian life. You are never “too much” for Him. And you are never “not enough” for Him. He thinks you are an amazing creation of His own hand – and He designed you with intent and purpose.

You are gifted. You may not be good at everything – no one is! Personally, I will never, ever be coordinated. Part of who I am is my klutziness. I will never be good at walking, let alone sports. But I have been given other gifts. Many, many other gifts! And He has given me these treasures for two reasons – to show the evidence of Who He is and for my benefit. It is really, truly fun to operate in the gifts God has given you! So, if you are serving in some capacity and not having a blast while you do it, you may be in the wrong place. Or you may be trying to use a gift you have not been given. Find out who He has made you to be – and try not to be afraid of it.

There is so much more I could say.
But here’s the bottom line:
You were designed to walk in freedom.
Free to be who you are.
Free to have the stickers not stick.
Free to play to an Audience of One.

Because if He is pleased with your choices, you will be in right standing with others.
If you walk according to His design, in His ways, the stickers won’t stick.
He designed you.
He adores you.
He likes you.
Will you let Him?

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