01 May 2012

labels

Why do we feel like we have to classify people and put them into some box with a label? Is it because it makes it easier to categorize, make generalizations and assumptions based on skewed perceptions? We can then make a withdrawal from our memory banks particular deposit box and have a judgement at hand for everyone without ever getting to know each person in their own light.

I am asking this series of questions because first, I want to change and not label and automatically lump anyone into some phantom category, assuming I know more about them than I do. Doing that makes it very hard to have relationships. Second, I want to break any chains of phantom limitations that I have allowed myself to be bound in because I chose to shape my worth and ability with what others have said about me.

The following are a few of the labels I have worn in my day. I've been rough and tumble more than a girlie girl so I was called a tomboy. I thoroughly enjoyed school because I love to learn, as such that made me a geek. In fifth grade I fell in love with rock music and that wasn't really what "my people" did at that time and although I knew who Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix were, many my age didn't and did not understand so I was an Oreo. In junior high I took drum lessons and girls didn't do that. I guess they hadn't heard of Sheila E. either, so now I was just weird.  I've only had two boyfriends in life and both were Caucasian. Well that means I had jungle fever.

Now these weren't directly detrimental, some are actually funny. But my peers treated me like something was wrong with me because I did not fit nicely in a box that could be easily labeled. I was often rejected and after years of this I began to think there really was something wrong with me. I unfortunately used other's perceptions as the measuring stick of who I was and what I could do. I wore the labels as though they were true descriptions of the contents that make up my composition.

I also am just a guilty as anyone else. There was a time in my life when I would lash out in anger and use my words to cut people to shreds and tear them down to a base level. I am sad to say that on more than one occasion I have left people in tears because of the labels I threw on them. This brings me back to my questions and what I see as an answer.

Labels give us a sense that we have control and can gauge what value a person has to us. In our pride we think we can determine some one's abilities and worth in life by adding a label to them. Now at first glimpse that's not what it looks like but I know for me, that is what I'll be repenting of. I want to see the bigger picture. What if we decided to be free from this in our dealings with people? How different could life be for us? Could our spheres of influence expand if we let the labels go? Could we be changed individuals ready to bring change in this world? I am foolish enough to believe we can.

Proverbs 18:21 (AMP) tells us "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]." Let's use our words to build up others and speak goodness that promotes life, not slap on some label that will limit all of us because we are not open to receive from or give to others. The opportunity for relationship dies when we choose to speak in the language of labels. Let's change our minds about this and be amazed by the radical reformation it will bring.
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