The Labels That Define You
When was the last time you took your time to read a product label? Labels are meant to give us a better understanding of the things we can find on the inside - the content. Those things hidden beneath what is visible. But labels were also created to make life easier and facilitate our decision if we want a particular item or not. That means labels summarize the characteristics of something.
That could be compared to what we do when we describe incidents or other people. We put on labels to make it easier to describe another person. All of a sudden people transform from individuals to categories: "The tall one. The nice one. The chubby one. The smart one. The pretty one. The dark-skinned one."
But we are much more than labels. In all our complexities as individuals, our emotions, character traits, knowledge etc. are more than what can simply be summed up in a few words! Therefore we need to tread carefully when it comes to labeling others.
The problem with labels is that even though they are interchangeable, they always leave a trace. Have you ever removed a label from a box or a jar? Even after you succeed to completely remove it, you are left with some residue - remains from the glue that allowed the label to stick in the first place. That means, even after the label is gone something still remains to remind you that a label was there before. It is the same with our mind and our perception of things. Why do you think most people find it so challenging to accept change? Even though we try to reprogram our minds that something that was so familiar to us before, is now different, once in a while our thoughts will still wander back to how things were before - the label we had created for that particular person or situation.
In a way, it seems almost impossible to remove all the labels in our lives because they also provide a sense of security - create mental categories to feel safer and protected. The labels that define who is a friend and who is a foe for example. Therefore, instead of focusing on removing labels, we should work on putting on the right ones. "In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, which he promised to his people. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24 NCV
If you think about your life, what would you like to be written on your label?