With so many labels being thrown around out there right now – democrat, liberal, black, white, POC, rich, poor, LGBTQ, American, Trump supporter, conservative, police officer, millennial, criminal, racist, etc. emotions are running high and many have found themselves feeling confused and overwhelmed. Perhaps you were like me and started questioning where exactly you fit and how you’re supposed to be feeling right now.
Well, I’ve found some beautiful clarity and I’m sure it will help someone else out there. Perhaps even you.
While it is important to listen, learn, and acknowledge each other’s truths, I’ve personally found that many of these labels kept clouding up my judgment and prevented me from clearly seeing people as an INDIVIDUAL and along with that, their fuller potential. Scarier yet, some labels had me doubting who I am as well. I’ll come back to this more in a bit.
As someone who considers herself a self-proclaimed potentialist, I’ve spent my whole life developing the habit of seeing individuals for what they have the potential to be and treating them as if they’re well on their way there. And if they doubt their abilities to become what I see, I’m more then happy to offer them my perspective until they start to uncover and see that greatness by themselves.
While labels give us a general idea of who a person is, they don’t always paint an accurate picture. These labels started acting like my own personal red kryptonie–messing with my potentialist superpowers, seeming to rob me of my power and having me see enemies where I’d formerly saw friends. And so I knew it was time to toss those labels into a metaphorical lead box.
Now that I have, my ability to empathize, empower, and advocate are back and even stronger than before. Hence this first ever blog post and a brand new podcast to do just that.
I did however choose to keep one label around, the most important of them all.
The only label I choose to keep and see is– CHILD OF GOD.
From there, I’ll let everyone else use a powerful little phrase to create and tell me who they are.
I am Alana. I am an individual. I am of infinite worth. I am blessed. I am grateful. I am accountable for my choices. I am a potentialist. I am a child of God.
The phrase “I am” is not only a powerful phrase that begins a creation process. “I AM” is also one of the names of Jesus Christ.
In Exodus 3, Moses asks for a name to give the children of Israel as to who had sent him to their rescue. God responds, “I AM THAT I AM” and instructs Moses to tell them that “I AM hath sent me unto you”.
What a statement! To me, this speaks to all that God is. To his infinite knowledge, perfect love, wisdom, and power to create or destroy as well as His ability to rescue us from sin and its effects. He knows exactly who He is and what He is capable of. He is also well aware of those who would try to tell or tempt Him otherwise.
As children of God, do we know who we are? Do we know what we are capable of? Do we realize that we have that same potential to create, to love, to rescue, and to know truth?
That power is within us!
Satan knows this about us as well, and has declared war against the saints and will destroy our standards and freedoms and even our souls, if he can.
How cautious are we of Satan’s attempts to tempt and persuade us away from that truth of who we are? Do we know how to spot his subtle lies of half truths and avoid being lured by his distractions into false security and justifications?
Every time we say, “I am _____” we are using the name of God to create. Do we use it in vain?
Are we using it in ways that denies or acknowledges His Plan of Salvation and hand in our life? Are we using it in a way that acknowledges or denies our agency? Are we using it in a way that acknowledges or denies our worth and potential to become like Him?
The great blessing of agency is that we get to choose what labels we accept and acknowledge. When we are distracted, some of these labels get accepted as absolute truths and we find ourselves trying to conform to a label that limits us and our worth. They harden our hearts toward our brothers and sisters because of pride, envy, or entitlement.
Be cautious of labels that have us buying into Satan’s narrative. These would tempt us to place our highest regard on what we are capable of doing on our merits alone—to deny God’s influence, existence, and succoring hands. These labels would tempt us to deny our agency and the need for us to do our part. These labels would align us with those that tempt us with promises of which that they have no power or intentions of keeping.
Just as Satan did with the Savior in Matthew 4:6,9, these new identities would tempt us to deny who we are as children of God. It was in this account that Satan said, “IF ye be the son of God, cast thyself down and…all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me”.
Let us heed and find comfort in the words of President James E. Faust, when he said, ” In the future the opposition will be both more subtle and more open. It will be masked in greater sophistication and cunning, but it will also be more blatant. We will need greater spirituality to perceive all of the forms of evil and greater strength to resist it. But the disappointments and setbacks to the work of God will be temporary, for the work will go forward.” (James E Faust, “The Forces That Will Save Us” Ensign 2007)
Our Power and Responsiblity
Our power lies in what we can control. We can control our hearts and the perspectives we choose to approach any circumstance.
Choose labels with caution. And if the labels of the world are causing you to shrink or see others as less, let this label—CHILD OF GOD—be the only one that you see.
Start from there.
It is the most important label of them all.