It seems like everything has a label on it these days.
Warning labels, Identity labels, Description labels, Brand labels and Grade labels to tell you the quality of the product
The problem comes when we try to define people by labels, we aren’t giving them freedom, we are trying to exercise power and control over them by labeling them in the image of what we want them to be…AND only using the definition of what we think it means.
It’s a real shame because those labels don’t even come close to defining who a human being is and what their worth is. Especially if we are falsely defining someone. Like, telling someone a lie about themselves.
There’s a label for that these days: Gaslighting.
Here’s a definition – Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships. It is a covert type of emotional abuse where the bully or abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality.
You might have experienced gaslighting before. This happens in toxic power relationships all the time.
Government and media gaslights all the time – both sides do it. Churches gaslight. Schools do it, coaches do it, husbands and wives do it, kids do it to each and their parents.
It especially occurs when one person assumes control over another person by labeling them with lies, creating a false narrative around themselves, making them question their own judgment and reality.
People gaslighted Jesus too!
His family came to him while he was in the midst of a big crowd and told everyone he had lost his mind and they came to take him away!
Then right after that, a bunch of religious leaders came and said Jesus had a demon in him, which allowed him to do all those miraculous unhinged things.
Recently I heard this little phrase that rung so true: The people that will hurt you the most are your Mothers and Fathers, and your Lovers and Leaders. We can be most hurt by the people we most trust – our mothers and fathers and our lovers and leaders.
Jesus was hurt by his mothers and brothers and his spiritual leaders, all in this same short passage.
Who has hurt you? Who has taken the unfair power dynamic and turned it against you?
Who has labeled you with untruths that are not fair to you and do not represent who you are?
You might right now be stuck in a toxic power dynamic where you are being lied to and manipulated…let me suggest three things Jesus did to combat these relationships:
- Respond with Truth – they are trying to change your reality with lies,
- Respond with Boundaries – Jesus set the boundary, “No, they do not get to see me”
- Respond with a Redefined Relationship – the power structure needed to change, those people no longer had power/authority over Jesus.
I think this is a good pattern for anyone who finds themselves in this type of position whether it be in your personal relationships, at work, with religious institutions, on social media, with news media and outlets, whatever the situation where you find yourself under toxic authority and gaslighting:
Find the Truth – don’t let them define your reality.
Set Good Boundaries – don’t let them have access to your heart and mind
Redefine the Relationship – you set the tone for what authority they have in your life.
Jesus can redefine who you are better than any other power in the world. Jesus can bring truth and life into your life. Jesus can create the boundaries you need in your life to keep you from being deceived.
Jesus wants to elevate you at the expense of himself, so let him speak into your life and restore you to the fullness of who he has created you to be.
There are so many labels this world has and there have been so many labels that have been put upon you…very few of them are the labels that Jesus gave you.
Jesus is bigger than those labels.
Allow Jesus to bring truth to you, to redefine you and be confident in boundaries you have placed in your life to protect you from the Gaslighting culture around you.