Friday, October 4, 2013

Who are you? Who, who, who, who?

"who do you say that I am?"
Matthew 16:15

Are you a labeler?  You know, the way some people label things in their pantry, or in their garage?

I'm not crazy about labels.  I mean, I understand them.  I've seen very impressive storage systems, like in friends' garages, with matching plastic bins, each neatly labeled.  But then when I thought about doing the same thing in my home, it seemed pointless, because I already knew what was what, and where it went.

And even if it wasn't me who was putting something away, I didn't think labels were necessary because isn't it obvious what goes where?  Just put things back where you got them.  Or, if that's where you pulled that canned good from, then that's where that product goes when you're putting away groceries.   Simple, right?

Apparently not.  Certain members of my family seemed to have trouble remembering where things go.  Frequently.  Seems simple enough to me... maybe they're missing a chromosome or something....

Oh, I kid.  And it's okay; I know they're working around my flaws, too.

Anyhow, awhile back, I asked for and got a label-maker for Christmas, and labeled some shelves and bins and things.   In the interests of family harmony, you understand.  But I'm still not crazy about labels.

I find I feel the same way about being labeled.  I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of people thinking I'm something I'm not.  For instance, I have never said of our family,  "we are homeschoolers," but instead as "we homeschool".  No difference?  Perhaps.  But what picture do you get in your head when you picture a homeschooling family?  Nine kids?  A mother that doesn't wear any makeup?  A family that sews all their kids' clothes and grows their own food?

There are homeschooling families like that.  I've seen them, I've read about them, and I know a couple.  But to be honest, in Southern California, they're not real common. 

What about if I call myself a Christian?  What do you expect?  A certain pattern of behavior, and a specific role in society.  I am a Christian, of course, but that might not include what you think ~ other than being a follower of Jesus Christ.  That part is true.

Just a few weeks ago, a friend who has a three-year old, asked a group of women of varying ages, with kids of varying ages, what was "okay" when it comes to Halloween.  For several long seconds, no one said anything.  And I knew it was because we all have a different thought on that subject, and no one wanted to judge anyone else.

I am a Christian, and a homeschooling mom.  I'm also a Republican, and a Californian and an introvert.  But you could stand me next to someone with those same "labels," and find dozens of differences in how we manifest those aspects of our character.

Labels are limiting.  And far too simplistic for creatures as complex and fascinating and layered as human beings are.  They only give a peek.  And they often don't allow for change.  I have been a Christian all my life, but I am a much different person than I was twenty years ago.

I think this is why I've always been intrigued by the concept of God giving His children new names ~ Abram --> Abraham...  Sarai --> Sarah... Jacob --> Israel...  He was recognizing that they were changed.

The more important thought, though, is not about labeling one another, but about how we consider Him.  I mean, if I think humans are complex, what does that make Him?

It makes Him perfect.  Complete.  And always all of who He is.

~ "To whom do you belong,
        and where are you from?" ~
1 Samuel 30:13


  1. Your post today made me think of Revelation 2:17 -- "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. "

    I hoped that my new name will be Nathaniel, an "Israelite in whom there is no guile" -- and then I got a glimpse of just how much guile is still within me.

    God help us all. I will leave the choice with Him.

  2. Oh, I forgot about that verse! That's a good one!

    And seeing the guile in you is half the battle. Stay in the fight.