I used this piece from my journal in a teaching that I did at Basileia a couple weeks ago. Thought that I would share it with you.LABELS
Why is it so easy to "label" people? To have determined expectations in ways which individuals will or will not fulfill in our life.
Our humanity and it’s limitations, busyness or survival instincts seem to easily box in or stereotype the mix of our day to day relationships so quickly and so conveniently. Even from a brief interaction with an individual, I can easily assess and quickly figure out where a person will or will not fit into my world, based on their looks, interests and personality. Does this individual meet up to my internal standard of what I deem as a current need or desire in my life –right now?
Oh I am sure that many of us don't particularly assimilate thought this way in approaching individuals and yet if we were to look into our every day actions, reactions or the lack thereof in one way or another, this is perhaps what we might find. Whether it is the grocery clerk, the homeless person on the street, an old friend or a new acquaintance. Labels. Boxes. Stereotypes.
Are we strictly defined by the face we present to the world and identified by the packaging the world chooses to see? Isn’t the beautiful mystery of a human soul not just about felt similarity but, also about all the diversity it represents?
I recognize that I can easily miss the richness of the gift of a conversation or a life so far beyond even my expectation of the moment or perceived "take away". To walk into each conversation not assuming the conclusion or predicting the end but, to take in the whole narrative and all the little bits in between.
To reach for "the mystery" and the gifts that emerge out of a new encounter and also in an old relationship. To hear the musings and to uncover or discover a new dynamic of a stirring soul, not for gain in personal self profit but to connect deeper to the heart of the One who is divine, longs to be known and whose reflection is in the one who is in front of me.
In many ways I feel like I am on the receiving end of labels which deem me capable or incapable of regard, intimacy, relationship, desire, longing and honesty. Often it feels like it borders on an injustice of it's own accord and then I stop and realize how easily and quickly my heart is of like gesture. My thought through this process is tho' I cannot change another human soul. I can make change to my own heart. To see outside of myself. To really “see”. To really “hear”. To “perceive” in the way my Father does and to truly long to “understand”.
I had a new friend call me out of the blue a couple weeks ago -just to talk. He didn't want anything in particular. He wasn't looking for some insight, answer to a question or resolve. It caught me off-guard cause I remember getting off the phone and asking myself “mmm...I wonder what so and so wanted?” and then I stopped and realized that he had given me a gift in that moment of conversation. He just wanted to talk, have a laugh, shoot the breeze, catch up and perhaps in those moments of innocence, a deeper-far more rarer gift would be found.
I reflect and realize that the simple joy and beauty of a “gift” is perhaps more about the giving than even of the ‘receiving’. Could it be if we approached giving this way – we would become people who could ‘receive’ well. Giving of ourselves motivated from an outward place – less selfish and more selfless - a healthy perspective … no strings attached … the only “expectation” is to love outwardly, care deeply and be willing to understand unconditionally, whether it is reciprocated or returned. The longing "to know" and then in turn to truly "be known" - it is in all of us.
There is a treasure in our souls that is waiting to be unlocked and given away, just as it is in each one who we meet. Sometimes it is awkward, perhaps a little uncomfortable but, if I am willing to search for that which is a sacred treasure in the life of the one who is in front of me, a whole new beautiful unique color in this world will be opened up.
Many times the very experience that has connected us together is not even the gift that the Lord wants to give us in the midst. Sure it is a piece of yet, it is deeper - far more rare - definately at times difficult to find but, if we can push to the core of the soul and that which stirs the deep places there is a mysterious energy that will awaken, bring life, refresh, in turn push us past our ever chasing selfish motives and agendas. For only Outside of ourself will we in depth and meaning come alive in and through relationship. Perhaps being able to give and receive love in a way that is intrinsically pure and available. Perhaps being the face, hands and voice of understanding, wisdom, life and love. JESUS.
The labels gone, the boxes shattered. To uncover and discover the rich mysteries of a human soul - in all it's complexities.
This is my prayer.