Ella saw the world, not always as it was, but as it could be. Unfortunately, some very important people in her life did not share this belief.
Tragedy struck Ella’s family, leaving her alone with her new stepmother and stepsisters.
Cruel, Heartless, Bitter describe these three individuals.
Her stepmother and stepsisters misused her. What seemed like overnight, she went from a sister to a servant. In fact, on a cold night she fell asleep with the last bit of heat from the fire leaving her face covered in ash.
The girls mocked and teased her….laughing so cruelly at her, stripping her of her place in the family. Ella came to breakfast one morning, and left with a new name, Cinderella.
The narrator states names have power. The power? To become a blessing or a curse. All of the sudden it seemed that Ella’s stepmother and stepsisters had indeed transformed her from a beautiful young lady to a creature of ash and toil.
On several occasions, her stepmother asked her, “who do you think you are?” Not giving Ella a chance to answer, her stepmother answered for her telling her, “You are a ragged servant girl. That is who you are, and that is who you will always be.” She called her dirty, a servant girl, ragged, nothing, a wretch. One label after another.
She went from a girl of confidence to a girl who questioned her very self-worth. Out of fear of rejection, she was afraid to be herself. She doubted what she could offer in a relationship. She doubted if she would be “enough.”
The narrator tells of Ella taking a risk. The risk? To be seen. Perhaps the greatest risk we can take in life is to be seen for ourselves as we truly are. The creation God made.
During this movie, sitting there with my own daughter, I began to cry; thinking of the labels I wore in my lifetime, the fear I held onto and the masks I wore thinking I wasn’t good enough.
A name is very powerful. A name defines certain characteristics about a person. These characteristics make up a person’s identity. For example, as Christians, we are image bearers of God. This is a part of our identity.
Other names include: Strong, Wanted, Lovable, Worthy, Capable.
Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t embrace these names. Instead of names, we wear labels. Much like Ella.
As a child, I was extremely outgoing with a talkative personality. My parents are both introverts. They didn’t understand my need for others. Being around others brings me life and energy, while being alone drains my energy. I remember in my childhood feeling like I was “too much.” This was a label I wore.
When I wanted to go out with friends or share a story in a lively, enthusiastic way, I often received a message from my parents that I was “too much”. They never verbally spoke this over me. It was something I perceived from them in reading their body language and the assumptions I made. Because I believed I was “too much,” I started feeling like I was “weird” – an “outsider.”
By the time I entered high school, I wore these labels, plus other ones like: Fat, Ugly, Not Good enough, Loser.
I believed lie after lie about myself.
When I would introduce myself to others, I might have said, “Hi, my name is Melissa, I like….”, but what I was really telling them was, I am too much, I am weird, I am an outsider, I am ugly, I am fat, I am a loser.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that believing these labels or false names about myself produced very painful emotions. This was a very dark time in my life. Shame became a garment of choice. Anger seethed through me. Depression sank over me.
Sure, I wore a smile; a Christian girl smile at that. But, right beneath the surface laid enormous pain and self-hatred. The self-hatred… Why couldn’t I be normal? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else? Why did I have to be so weird?
I wish I could give you a “1-2-3” process for removing the labels, because if I’m being honest, I still have to contend with believing truth.
It starts with recognizing those labels. A few common sources for labels include failures, things we do/don’t do, and internalization of things we have been called or call ourselves. But these labels limit, while your name unleashes limitless possibility.
The Bible gives us specific, concrete truth about who you are:
You are worthy and valuable, not because of anything you could ever do but simply because you are a reflection of the One who made you (Genesis 1:27).
You are a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
You have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13)
Spend some time in prayer reflecting over these Scriptures. Ask God to tell you what your name is. While you may not hear an audible voice, it is very likely for the Holy Spirit to show you a picture, a word, or even an impression of your name.
Philippians 4:9 tells us to hold on to that which is pure, true, and lovely. This is a day by day choice to hold on to the truth of who you are. Daily we need to take time to root ourselves in His truth and reject any labels we may have knowingly or unknowingly put back on. You are God’s Beloved, Chosen, Valuable, Accepted, Worthy. Believing anything less will prevent your freedom. Labels hold your freedom hostage. Your name sets you free.
If you need help overcoming your labels, we are here for you. Please contact our office at 214-368-7373 or email at email@example.com.
Blessings to you on your journey,
Melissa Clark, MA, LPC