Until recently I had tons of weeds in my yard. Then one day last week I took a drastic measure that removed all of my weeds for good! And the amazing thing is that it didn’t cost a thing and the weeds are guaranteed to never come back. What I did was simply this: I started calling them Flowers!
What we label something matters. Calling those yellow things “weeds” sends a message about their value to us. Calling them “flowers” sends a totally different message.
On a similar note, I recently decided to label my office a “closet” instead of an “office”. That way I don’t have to feel guilty about the mess! What a stress reliever that’s been!
I’ve been thinking about labels lately, specifically with what labels do we choose to label ourselves?
Thomas the Tank Intern and I had a discussion recently about our Facebook profile’s “political views”. (Facebook forces you to label yourself a lot if you hadn’t noticed!) I had listed myself as “very conservative” prior to this conversation, but our conversation helped me see that my views are a mixture of very conservative (on moral issues) and moderate (on enviromental issues) and maybe even some relatively liberal (with regard to treatment of the poor, etc). One label couldn’t accurately describe the mix of them. So I changed my label to “other”!
Another way I think we attach a label to ourselves is by the Facebook groups we join. Each one represents something we associate ourselves with. We subtly endorse those groups that we join whether we realize it or not.
I had a conversation with a distraught student last weekend. This student had received a scolding from a non-Christian acquaintance because she was part of a Facebook group called “Abolish Abortion”. Now there’s a label for you! Sounds a little like “weeds”!
Now I’m as pro-life as anyone. When my unwed mom was pregnant with me, she was offered an abortion, but instead, she gave me up for adoption. She’s my hero and now you can see why I’m so prolife.
Too often Christians are perceived as “haters” and are identified with what we are against. Let’s not reinforce that stereotype by choosing labels that communicate hate. “Abolish Abortion” sounds hateful and I’m not surprised that a non-believer would be offended. I discovered there’s even an “Abolish Abolish Abortion Groups” group out there. I’m tempted to join!
How about taking a stand with a positive label instead. Here are some suggestions: “Promote Adoption,” “Choose life,” “Let’s Help Women Facing an Unwanted Pregnancy,” “Great Alternatives to Abortion,” etc. These labels communicate love, rather than focusing on hate.
On the same note, instead of joining “Hilary Haters,” why not start a group “Jesus loves Hilary.” Or instead of “Ban Gay Marriage” how about “God loves those struggling with same-sex attractions.”
But I think the best label of all is a life lived that models the character of Christ to a lost world. I think it’s called “loving our neighbors as ourselves.”