The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think.
In education, we label everything and everyone. Don't even get me started on all of education's acronyms and its own language. If we're talking about reading or math, students are either on level, below level or above level. If we're disaggregating assessment data (try saying that three times fast), we label the subgroups by race/ethnicity, participation in the free/reduced lunch program, and by type of special services. Silly me! For years, I just thought I was teaching kids.
How do we label the folks we meet? By what they do? where they live? what they drive? what they wear? where they go to church? Do we sometimes label a person before we have even exchanged any words?
A couple of weeks ago a label taught me a valuable lesson. This time it was a medication label. I've learned the hard way to hold on to those warning labels that come with prescriptions, just in case.
I have mentioned before that depression is an unwanted visitor lurking on the outskirts of my life. My family doctor and I typically manage to maintain the delicate balance of calm and confidence. The bane of my existence is how easily the chemical scales can be tipped, even by medications intended for my good.
After taking a new medication for a mobility issue, I gradually found myself sliding into the pit. Yikes! I pray you have never made that journey. Because the slide was gradual, fogging my thinking (while not working on the mobility problem), it took over a week for me to pull out the warning label for a closer look.
Yep! There it was, buried in the middle of a three-inch paragraph of side effects: "...confusion, depression..." I would have yelled, "Ya think!?" except Maisie had just gotten comfortable and dosed off on the bed. Anyway, I was at once ticked off and relieved. Not sure who/what I was ticked off about, but I was relieved that I could make a choice and do something about this.
Becoming empowered is a lesson in itself, but that's not the one I learned that day. I really, really hate that depression is any part of my life. I think "depression" frequently translates into "weakness" for those who are not affected by it. And I do not want to be labeled as weak (except by the Lord, because in my weakness, He makes me strong).
THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED: Labels only have the power we allow them to have. All of us have labels, but those are only traits or characteristics, not who we are. I'd never describe my garment as a long-sleeved, charcoal and rust colored, cotton and cashmere outer garment. Who does that? It's a sweater, right? So, I'm going to try really hard not to consider myself just a bunch of labels, but as a unique child of God. Hopefully, I'll get good enough at that to start doing the same with those around me.
Do you have labels? Are they ones you choose, or are they thrust upon you? Are there labels you wish to avoid for yourself or others?
Colossians 3:11 Living Bible (TLB )
11 In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Christ is what matters, and he is equally available to all.