404 Labels Lie

Labels Lie

I’ve been labeled a lot of things in my life. Some good. Some not so good. Some by others. Some by myself. And you know what?

All of them fall short of describing me.

I understand why people use labels. It’s an easy way to compartmentalize complexity. Multifaceted subjects take effort to fully understand. Labels remove the required effort and provide you with a nice and tidy box.

But labels are toxic.

We all know about the hurtful labels: fag, retard, ugly, fat, stupid, loser. There are so many more that are even more colorful than those. Most people understand the pain attached to these labels.

But what about the labels that are seemingly more benign? What about the labels that are given with the best of intentions?

I wore one of those labels for my entire life. That label was NICE.

I didn’t even realize the extent of it’s impact on my life until recently. Once it was identified, I was able to look back at how being labeled as “nice” shaped the way I responded to people. It shaped the expectations of others and the ones I had of myself.

Once I was labeled as “nice,” I could never allow myself to be anything but that. I was assuming a label that didn’t properly define me. It stole my identity for a long time.

It wasn’t until I took back the label and identified it for what it was that I was able to break it’s power in my life.

This has been an awakening for me. I realize the power of labels in my life and how I use them for others. I realize the power we give words to shape who we are.

That’s why I write this blog. I write for those who have fallen victim to labels. I write for the ones who have found their identity in everything else other than Jesus’s redemption, acceptance and love. I write for those that want something more than a label to define them. I write for those that want to find their identity in something bigger than themselves.

I can only fight lies with truth. And the greatest truth is love. If I’m going to take or give a label, it will be this one:



Today I’m posting over at POTSC. I’m sharing my story about how Even Nice Labels Lie. Go check it out and read some of the other posts on the site. They are an amazing organization whose mission is to Overthrow Judgement and Liberate Love by demonstrating radical grace and giving second chances to those who have failed. 


  1. I have allowed myself to fall victim to labels, and I’ve even labeled myself too many times. Loved, I like that.
    jenn recently posted..And She’s Back!… again

  2. Excellent post as usual. It goes beyond labeling individuals. Groups are also hurt by lables. How many times have we heard about “the poor” or to be more politically correct “those less fortunate” or “the disabled”, “the elderly”, people are labled by race and gender, even where they live..Californians are all beach bums etc. Rarely are these lables true and they never fully fit individuals. I learned this both as a labler and as one who is labled. I was a middle class kid, if we struggled I knew very little about it. “the poor” were either uneducated, single moms, disabled, lazy or some combination of those. I am ashamed to even say that was my view. God allowed me to meet many of the poor, know what they are individuals with stories, with lives, hopes, dreams, a lot like all of us. On the other hand my family has been affected by the way people see “the disabled” I have twins with special needs. This lable does not contain all they are, nor all we are as a family. My girls are funny, silly, loving girls, who can be stubborn and disobedient, just like any other kid. We have hopes and dreams, struggles, good times and bad just like you do. So my prayer for all of us is that we would learn who we are in Christ and believe it. When we begin to do so we see people who have a story and a God that loves them just as much as He loves us, and we begin to be free to love them too. It’s a beautiful thing!

    • Wow such a great perspective, Kim! Thank you for sharing that because I’ve definitely lost sight of those broad types of labels. It’s so unfair to reduce someone or even a group down to a label.

      In a lot of ways, it perpetuates the label and unwillingly people wear it and live it. I want to be one of those people that has the grace to see beyond a one-dimensional label.

  3. Excellent topic Tony! I actually spoke on this very same topic not too long ago for a youth service. I have experienced the same “NICE” label, and it’s just refreshing to read about it from your perspective.

  4. I can remember reading in Wild at Heart how many men are stuck with a label like this and it defines him-how he thinks of himself and how he is perceived. I wrote in my journal then, and still believe it today, that I want to be known as more than NICE. I want to be known as Dangerous or Risk-Taker or Lover of the unlovable. I also want to know I am LOVED. Good thought Tony. Got here late after being out of town for a couple of days.
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..Hope

    • I have to read Wild At Heart. That’s one I’ve been putting off for too long.

      And yeah, I want to be known as a dangerous risk-taker. I’m still working on it but I’m getting there.

  5. Good post. I appreciate the insight of how labels hold us back from being who we really are in Christ. Thanks man.

  6. Agreed. If people could label me, I would want them to say I loved God and others. Great post.
    Dan Black recently posted..Richard St. John: “Success is a continuous journey”

  7. Loved is such an important, even necessary, label. It’s why God consistently calls us beloved, loved, accepted, desired. Being loved is vital to our lives.
    Jason Vana recently posted..The Almighty Doctrine

  8. One word: LOVED!

  9. Great post here and at POTSC!
    Jon Stolpe recently posted..Ice Breaker – On The 13th Day Of Christmas What Gift Are You Hoping to Get

  10. I think this is a great point. I have been stuck under some labels that are both nice and not so nice. Finally finding freedom through my identity in Christ!
    Quinton recently posted..Tweeting For the Glory of God

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