It's 1967, at my alma mater, W.T. Woodson High School, in Fairfax, Virginia. I think I must have been the label post-it note queen, having all the popular guys stick one on me. Thirty-seven years later, painful labels still hurt.
As I rushed onto the school bus to escape another day of senior misery, my eyes met Gary's, when two rows ahead, he turned around to taunt me. Gary, one of the more popular and funny kids in school, had a way with sick humor, and I could tell by his mischievous look, that it was label post-it note time for me.
"Hey, Ellen," Gary shouted as he looked out the bus window toward the front of Woodson. "See that flagpole? They put a notch on it every year someone graduates a virgin. This year, they're gonna put another notch there just for you."
I wasn't a Christian then, and his labeling me a virgin was a snide comment meant to hurt, and was a constant reminder that my sensitivity just didn't fit with the in-crowd.
"Well," I shot back, "what's it to you? I'm glad I'm a virgin and not one of the loose girls you hook up with."
In retrospect, I should have kept my big mouth shut, as my assertion was an open invitation for more label put downs, but I wasn't one to take anything lying down. Besides, I was proud that I was still a virgin. Coping with unpopularity, however, because I wasn't one of "those girls" (I had my own labels) was an unrelenting thorn in my heart.
Another time I was trying out for Woodson's senior musical production. In walks Amada, graceful and charming, with long, dark, disgustingly thick, flowing hair, and slim body.
Her warm smile preceded her sweet words. "I'm glad you changed your mind and decided to try out for a part. You're so athletic, and I know how much you love to dance. I hope you, Carol and I all make it." (Good label post it note from my female, semi-popular friend.)
I'm moaning, "How can I compete with Amanda and all these other graceful, slim, popular gazelles?"
Amanda got a dancing part. Carol and I gave it our best shot, but we weren't picked. Disappointment hit my sensitivity doubly hard when Carol shared, "Gosh, Ellen, it's bad enough not getting a part, but when I overheard Paul saying, 'It's no wonder they didn't make it. They're amazons!', I really got upset."
I cried myself to sleep that night.
Both Carol and I were tall, and 25 pounds overweight, but we were athletes, and one has to be graceful to play basketball. And, we were good!
While being labeled a virgin and an amazon weren't that bad, the worst label is the one I posted on myself then and sometimes still do now. When I'm in the doldrums of wishing I could taste success, Satan's ugliest label sticks like glue.
"Well, looser, you didn't measure up then, and you don't measure up now. You life hasn't changed since you were 17, has it? And where is your God? He still hasn't given you your hear's desires, has He? And you've been begging for years. Why don't you just give up?"
Darts from the Devil aim to tempt his unpopular crowd to buy into the world's deception.
I cry. I feel sorry for myself. I get angry with God for the thousandth time. "You know, God, it has been years. How much longer must I wait? Maybe the Devil's right. But, I know I'm not the same person I was then. And, Lord, I do want what You want. But, where is it?"
After another futile battle, I again ask my Lord to forgive me for my big mouth and unbelief. His gentle Word reminds my heart, "My beloved daughter, turn your eyes toward Jesus, and look up to the Heavenlies. You are my tender branch I fill with My fruit in My time, not yours. When you reach Heaven, you'll find your name etched in My Book of Life. You're a winner, because I've labeled you a child of the King, my chosen one, my virgin bride, adorned in immortality's white robe, and deeply loved.
Thirty-seven years fall away, as I accept His truthful label post-it note. I like the way His Word sticks to my sensitivity. I'm part of His "wIN crowd."