I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
The nicknames we were given as kids often stick with us our entire lives. Sometimes the nicknames are given to us in jest and bear no resemblance to us. For instance, the basketball center called "Shorty" or the football linebacker called "Tiny." Other times they can be spot-on.
When we're most innocent and vulnerable, we sometimes latch on to the worst labels, then carry them with us wherever we go. These aren't labels others give us in jest, they're names we give ourselves through our pain. For some of us, it's self-effacing names we gave ourselves about our weight or our intelligence. For others, it's about where we lived or how much money our parents had or didn't have. So many of us were labeled by whatever it was that made us stand out, and the label stuck to us like duct tape and continues to define us today.
Our Creator cleared it up for us, though. When Jesus called Peter a "rock" after he had failed, He demonstrated chat many of these labels we've given ourselves just aren't true; they're lies masquerading as reality (Matthew 16:18). When you find yourself calling yourself by a name that just isn't true, remember what God calls us-He calls us His beloved.
We're all different. Not just a little bit different, but wonderfully and sometimes dramatically so. God chose to put different parts of His image inside every single person, so we all reflect Him in unique ways. Not so we would ricochet off of each other, but so we could refract His light in us in wonderfully colorful ways. What made you stand out as unique might be the thing God wants to use to show what He looks like to the rest of the world. What people used to tear you down is something God wants to use to build you up.
The swirls that make marbled stone so unique are also the points of greatest weakness. Don't let your uniqueness break you. Don't let your failures define you. Don't give or receive names God never had for you.
The critics don't get the final word in God's kingdom. God gets to tell us who we are, and He says we're loved. Not just a little, and not for a while, but from here to eternity and back. The next time you hear the old tapes that make you feel unworthy, remember that the God who spoke the universe into existence, who hears the thoughts you don't speak out loud, says you're beloved and you're His. That's His name for you.
What nickname have you given yourself or been given by others that has hurt your sense of worth?