THINKING ABOUT LABELS
As I lay in bed this morning, contemplating the start of my day, my mind began to wander.
What if we went to the grocery store and saw aisles upon aisles of canned food without labels? Suppose we’ve been told all the cans contain something good to eat. However, it would certainly take time and effort to find the treasures within each can: you would have to make your selections, place them in your cart, wheel to the checkout, pay the bill, journey home, and open the cans. I hope you can picture the scene.
What would you do in such a scenario? Would it be worth the effort to find something good that could benefit you — or would a designer label influence your decision more than what might be inside?
I thought some more. How does this relate to the way we see others around us? On what are we basing our judgments about them? Does outward appearance hinder us from finding the treasures that lie deep inside another person? What can we know of their longing to be accepted? Are we willing to invest the time and effort to find out?
HOW LABELS CAN HURT
As I pondered these ideas, my mind drifted back to the elementary school playground during recess many years ago. In fourth grade, I’d begun puberty and instead of growing vertically, I expanded horizontally.
My sweet momma had always worried and pled with my pediatrician for help because I was so skinny as a child. Then it happened — I blossomed! As if it was yesterday, I can hear the stinging comments of the pediatrician as he told the nurses in the office to come look at me. He pointed, and with a chuckle, said loudly for all to hear: “Her mom thought she would never grow … look at her now!”
I also clearly remember the hurtful sing-song comments of classmates as we played tag during recess: “MaryAnne can’t catch a flea, because she weighs 103!” Then there was that boy in my class who told me brassily: “I would like you if you lost weight.”
Didn’t anyone teach that boy manners? Didn’t anyone care about my heart and feelings?
The pain of hurtful comments can remain deeply embedded in the soul. I sometimes can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, but these words and phrases easily flood my memory.
LOVE WITHOUT LABELS
I am so grateful that “…if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yes, I am a new creation in Christ! Yet, I have experienced the pain of being labeled based on my appearance, so I share my experiences with you that you may know you are not alone. Jesus does not push us away because of our outward appearance or the evil condition of our hearts! His invitation is for all of us to come to Him.
God showed His great love for us by sending Christ
to die for us while we were still sinners
To love without labels we must take the time to talk to others and ask questions. Search for that deep treasure within the one who is hurting and longing for a touch of kindness and fellowship. Do you see those at church who sit in the back or by themselves? Say hello and welcome them as Jesus has welcomed you. Invite them to sit with you and your family or friends.
I have had people tell me how much this simple kindness meant to them and how dearly they felt loved and accepted! I may have been the first person to say hello to them in a big church. Though I may not remember, they will not forget an experience that made them feel loved!
What you see is not what you get when you invest the time and effort to dig deep and find the treasures within. As we love without labels, it will prove that we are His disciples who desire to share the perfect love of our Savior with a hurting world that is hiding behind masks of all kinds.
MaryAnne is a passionate follower of Jesus, wife of thirty-eight years to Arthur, and mom to four adult children. A CPA, she founded her own tax business, allowing her to work from home while raising kids. After caring for aging parents in their golden years, she began providing home care for older adults. She also enjoys leading women’s Bible study groups and speaking for retreats. In all she does, MaryAnne seeks to glorify her Lord and Savior and help others experience the joy of His presence!
33 Biblical "One Anothers"
Pray through these 33 One Another Verses, meditating on what it means to “love one another deeply from the heart” as we learn to selflessly walk each other home.
Show up, lean in, and be intentionally kind. Kindness is love in action. It shapes the relationships between us and builds a strong foundation of deeply caring and faith-enriched communities.