ALL too often it seems that what someone else thinks of us has a direct effect on us. If others feel we're lazy, unconcerned, discouraged, or the "black sheep," we may have a tendency to see ourselves this way also. We may even come to agree with them, and as a result feel like failures, always struggling to overcome negative labeling.
If you've accepted and even conformed your life to another's limited concept of you, you may wonder if it is possible to be free from this. The teachings of the Bible have led me to understand that it is. It's possible to shed the discouragement of negative labeling and put off the opinions others have put on us. Moreover, it's possible to overcome failure and live fulfilled lives.
First off, labels of limitation, like anything that defrauds us, are false because they are not of God. He never gives anything that is not good. What doesn't come from God-is not good-doesn't belong to any of us. Thus, anything that characterizes you in a negative, limiting, or degrading way must be denied on these grounds.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote extensively about her discovery of God's laws, which she named Christian Science. Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures says this: "In Science we are children of God; but whatever is of material sense, or mortal, belongs not to His children, for materiality is the inverted image of spirituality" (p. 572). The words "In Science we are children of God" state a spiritual fact, a truth, about the relation God has to each child of His. They state that He is our Parent. They state that each one of us is His-there's no one left out. And because of this, no one can be falsely labeled. In reality, each individual is rightfully labeled only as "the child of God."
God naturally loves you. He protects you from evil-including what another may falsely believe or say of you. Since no false label originates with God, you can't ever be harmed by one-or tempted to conform to its suggestions. You are always God's image-His exact image, not an "inverted image." That is, you're not the opposite of God, but rather good like Him, expressing all the qualities needed for a fulfilled, progressive, and useful life. No one's view or opinion can change any of these facts. Negative labels are "inverted images," not God's images.
Removing the erroneous label of yourself or another person is done by looking to God and learning about Him. Harmful thoughts and actions, fear, and unjust criticism are all destroyed through prayer. They are destroyed when you base your thought and actions on the spiritual facts you learn of God's creation. Turning to God, especially right in the middle of trouble, will indeed calm your thought. And improvement in the troubling circumstances must follow. You find that God has universal love for all His children-without anyone left out. You find yourself successful, unlimited, capable, and whole. Your former fears and all the false labels you once wore cease to play themselves out in experience. Instead, they are eliminated.
The words of Christ Jesus show how to remove labels. He taught, as St. Matthew has it: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (18:3). To be converted means to be changed in some way. In this case, it means to be changed in thought and outlook. To change one's thoughts, and as a result one's actions, naturally changes one's life. To be "converted," then, would mean to let God's truth convert our thoughts from ones of materiality to ones of spirituality. We do this when we let God govern our thoughts and actions. Whatever is held in thought is projected in our lives.
We each, today, can begin with ourselves to gain peace with all whom our lives touch. We can pray to see all men and women as God made them, rather than as the sinful mortals that characterize the "inverted image." This doesn't mean we should ignore any problem in a Pollyanna sort of way; to gain spiritual insights in prayer is quite unlike that. Only by means of spiritual understanding can false labels be removed forever.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.