Labelled, Boxed and Filed

labellingI have been labelled, boxed and filed, left to gather dust in the mind of the labeller or even constantly reminded of the shortcoming by which I have been labelled.

I don’t want to be filed or boxed in by a label.  I want to be free to grow, develop, change, adjust and express my true self.

The truth is that we have all been labelled, boxed and filed in someone’s mind.  A while ago, I saw the process happening right before my very eyes. I was asked which church I went to and my honest reply was “I don’t belong to a church at the moment”.  I saw the open, interested look shutter and I knew I had been labelled … what?  I don’t know, it would be a wild guess to try and imagine what label I had received but it was there nevertheless.  I was not asked why I do not attend church at the moment.  It was an open and shut case.  My church should not define me.  Rather, my relationship with Christ and how I follow Him should be the true mark of my Christianity.

What pictures do the following words bring to mind?  They will give one a good indication of how we label people:

homeschooled               unschooled                    American                    African        poor                        wealthy                 lazy                 stubborn                  blonde                snob             musical                     arty               sporty                   vegetarian                plain          dyslexic                      ADHD

Some labels are nice, kind, uplifting and some labels are even huge compliments and that is great.  These are the labels that are honouring to a person.  These are good labels to keep.

Other labels are unkind, full of negative criticism, nasty, sometimes cruel and sometimes debilitating.  These are the labels that are a problem in our society because they are the ones that will not allow us to see the beauty in a person’s spirit or to acknowledge growth and change when it occurs.

Still other labels contradict each other such as someone may label one a “patient” person and another will label that same person “impatient”.  In essence this would then indicate that the labeller is determining the labelling according to his/her own outlook on life and their personal assessment of the labelled person.

It is so hard to throw off the labels, step out of the box and leave the filing cabinet when others will not acknowledge the truth of whom we have become. Furthermore, sometimes we are so conditioned by the labels bestowed upon us that we feel insignificant, insufficient and unable to break the hold those labels have over us.

There is a major striving to get rid of labels in our society by freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of whatever, however, it is still considered okay to label people as “lazy”, “impatient”, “snobbish”, “pathetic” or whatever other negative label one can apply to their behaviour.

So often our Christian love is conditional, based on another person’s behaviour or label we have given him/her.  Think of Jesus, when Simon Peter denied Him; He did not label Peter a traitor and refuse to have anything to do with him afterwards.  Rather, He gave Peter an opportunity to redeem himself.  Peter became the leader of the church and was a respected and honoured man.

Instead of labelling, boxing and filing a person, why not take the time to really know and understand them so that you can both grow into better human beings.  After all, would this not be considered “Unconditional Love”?

Why not bestow on a person edifying, encouraging, acknowledging, uplifting and positive character trait labels and ANNOUNCE them instead of filing them.

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