“I don’t like labels. I think they conceal more than they reveal, sort of like a bikini.” -Arlen Specter
Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” In the world we live in, you can’t go anywhere without someone, somewhere judging not only the book, but the chapters and sentences that encompass the book, just by the cover.
When you drive through Starbucks = ‘She’s just a barista.’
When you check out at Wal-Mart = ‘He’s just a sales clerk.’
Oh dear, look at that 21 year old and their Facebook pictures = ‘just a college student.’
We are bombarded by labels, that turn into stereotypes, and most likely, lead to judgement. So many days we are defined by what we do, what we look like, who are family is, what culture we live in, or what money bracket we fall under. It is not fair, but as we all know by now, it’s only getting worse. So what do we do?
Well, Pantene branded, Pantene Philipines – yes the hair product – decided to break the mold and attack this constant message of negativity and hate in a recent YouTube video. It is powerful, for both men and women. It references the double-standards that face men and women in workplace/life that are constantly under-noticed and undervalued as a problem in our current age. This video gave me the courage to write this blog, because again what am I facing, another label. It inspired me to hold onto the truth that recently had been such a battle, but now is a trophy that is placed on the mantle of my heart – not out of pride, but confidence that the enemy has been defeated.
A few months ago, this truth and belief was tested. I was analyzed and assumed to be something that I wasn’t. My heart was hurt in this, but more than that, my pride was struck. How could they think that? How could they say that about me – it’s not true? Don’t they know me? After a few weeks I realized, they only can determine what they assume. I didn’t make it a point to correct them, because most of the time, once someone has a viewpoint of you – it won’t change by your words, but more importantly, consistent actions. After this incident, I made it a point to learn from what I had done to give them the wrong assumption, correct what was out of line, but then, let the rest of it go. The phrase, “you will never please everyone,” finally was clear to me. Though there are lines of balance to holding a standard for yourself (depending on what industry/career/religion you are), nobody has the right to define you – unless you let them.
The many labels that have been thrown, spoke, or I have even said about myself are in the cluster image you see above. Some days, those labels get the best of me, but recently, I give my best right back. My heart knows that I am not labeled by what anyone says, who my family is, or how much money is in my bank account. The One who defines me wrote who I am and will always be in the book of life we refer to as, the bible. Once and for all, He called and continues to beckon that I am: found, beautiful, lovely, redeemed, known, adopted, a saint, a warrior, an overcomer, a lover, a servant, a vessel, a mouthpiece, and most of all, His.
He was brave enough to die for me, so may I be brave enough to defend the beautiful daughter He so graciously sacrificed everything for. I will never be perfect, but I can be confident in the passion, joy, and redemption that I serve a God who meets me where I am. I encourage you to do as I have learned, be bold, be brave, and may you always believe in the power of confidence. Never assume anything of someone, but understand that there is always more beneath the cover. Learn to read the pages within before judging the outside. We live in a broken world, so perfection nor complete equality will be seen this side of heaven, but until then, may we do our best to love more, and label less.
Amen and Amen.