Have you ever let your past define you?

A struggle does not define who you are.
An illness does not define who you are.
A label does not define who you are.
YOU define who you are.

Here’s the thing, labels are a part of our life, and we are labeled constantly every moment, it seems.

The moment we were born, we were labeled with our name, gender, weight, length, etc. As a newborn, these were the labels. This was part of our identity.

Then as we grew older, we were labeled with our race, age, ethnic background, the schools we go to, job titles, and the list goes on. Married or single? Divorced, widowed? Again, somehow this is a part of how we are identified, along with our social security and driver’s license numbers.

The labels continue. When we get sick and get diagnosed, these labels start to identify us. And when we go through our struggles, it becomes a description of us too.

Then people start to use it to describe someone whether… He’s depressed. She’s bipolar. He’s manic. He’s divorced. She’s mentally ill… again, the list goes on.

This is our society. We are labeled from one thing to another. And while these labels are mere words, they can hurt us. However, we can look at it differently.

We can allow these labels to identify us or let them remain as labels and not be a part of our identity.

Experience has taught me….that these words can only affect us IF we allow them to. IF we let them. IF we accept them... I did. For a long time in my life. 

Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 9th year wedding anniversary. Personally, this is a BIG deal to me. In fact, every year I consider it a milestone and I make an intention to celebrate our day as big as we can.

Why? It’s because this is my second marriage and my first only lasted a little more than 2 years. For a long time, I blamed myself. And then my ex-husband blamed me and the illness I struggled with, depression, even though he’s never really seen me go through the struggles during our marriage. He saw me and defined me like that, so I questioned myself. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for marriage. Maybe I’m not meant to be with someone. Maybe I was still “depressed” and it was my fault. I felt like such a failure. But I was wrong and I learned more about myself over the years.

So, here are the facts. I am someone who experienced childhood sexual abuse. I am someone who battled (and still battles) with mental health struggles. I am someone who went through a divorce. I am someone who struggled with infertility. I am someone who has gone through it all.

But, here’s another fact, I also know who I am, wonderfully made by God. As YOU ARE.

You know who you are. You were made for greatness. You were made with strength. You were made to fight. You were made to rise. And you were made with unconditional love.

Our past can be a part of our story but we cannot let it define who we are. So, never doubt who you really are. And never doubt how unique and special you truly are and everything else you have to offer this world. Keep that light shining and just BE YOU!

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