Labels keep us away from what we do not want.  They are attractive; they draw us in.  But then they give us information.  “Partially hydrogenated oil?”  Forget it.  “Enriched flour?”  Nope.  “Whole grain?”  Yes!  “Scented?”  Depends on the scent.  “Fair Trade Certified?”  Yes, please.  How many carbs?  How much fat?  What is the caloric amount?  What about allergens?  If a label gives us certain information, we cast it aside.

Sometimes, the label can save us the time of actually having to look for information.  Some may be turned off by store brands.  Just seeing “Sam’s Choice” or “Great Value” on a box of something is enough to turn many customers away.  On the other hand, many may not be able to afford a package of Starbucks coffee, so the store brand ground coffee will have to do.

We see a label, we make a decision.

Appropriate for shopping; terrible for relationships.


I am teaching at FaithWorks of Abilene now.  We work with unemployed and underemployed individuals who are seeking advancement in life through better occupations.

And my students have had lots of labels put on them:



Single mom





Drug user

Drug dealer


These labels may even have some truth to them.  But they fall far short of telling the stories of the people in my class.

Where society at large sees a convicted felon, I see an individual making daily decisions to be the best parent they can be.

Where society sees someone who has a limited work history, I see an individual learning new skills to become more marketable.

Where society see someone in so much pain they struggle to make it through the day, I see an individual fighting, clawing, and crawling their way through each and every day (and then I get to see their classmates pick them up and walk with them).


Too often, labels are applied to people and time is not taken to learn about the person.

Skin color, clothing style, bumper stickers, music choice, are all often used as a way to say, “I know all there is to know about you because of that label.”

Labels may give some information, but they cannot tell the whole story.  And when we use labels to exclude people from our lives, we are the ones in the wrong.

Jesus did not see labels; He saw people.  He did not see people as Jew or Samaritan or Gentile; He saw them as children of God.  He did not allow the appearance of leprosy or sickness to keep Him from touching people.  He saw beyond they physical distinction of male and female and loved everyone as children of God.

We slap labels on everyone and then arrogantly assume we know everything about that person.  (I discussed that in more detail in my last post.)  When we do that, we are no longer seeing people.  Instead, we are seeing individuals through our biased, discriminatory eyes.


This class has chosen the name “Overcomers.”  They have overcome quite a lot in their lives.  Once they graduate, they will be ready to enter the workforce.  Unfortunately, some people will not overlook the labels.  That saddens me.  But I believe they will overcome that, as well.  Because they know they are more than their label.  They are learning who they are and what they can do.

And what a blessing they will be to those people who look beyond the label to see the person.

What Am I?

So what am I, exactly?

It seems that in today’s climate of political and religious debate, everyone must be pigeon-holed into specific categories.  Add to that climate the proliferation of social media (which allows people to make bold, even threatening, statements they would never make to a person’s face) and we are left with an environment of, “You must agree with me 100% or you are an idiot.”

What is really sad about this is that people claiming to follow Jesus seem to be leading in the creation and propagation of this environment, instead of acting counter to it.

So this leaves to me to ask about which category I fit in.

I am believer that God created the heavens and the earth.  However, I do not believe He did so in six literal days, I do not believe the earth is only 6000 years old, and I am not scared by some of the scientific evidence that seems to support certain aspects of evolution.

I am a feminist therapist.  This means I believe there are societal realities that lead to the disenfranchisement of many people groups, not just women.  I believe we must acknowledge those realities (such as white privilege) in order to learn how to create new realities where all the voiceless are given a voice.  However, I wholeheartedly oppose abortion, because the most voiceless of all is the unborn child (who seems to get overlooked in the whole debate).

I tend to lean conservative politically, especially when it comes to the size of our government.  I believe more individuals, churches, and private companies should be providing for those in need.  I believe people should have more control over where there money goes.  However, I have many friends who could not live if not for the government assistance they receive.  I have too many friends without a roof over their heads or food in their stomachs to continue waiting for people to act when government programs are in place to offer assistance.

I am grateful to live in this country and enjoy the freedoms that we have.  However, my first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, not any earthly country.

I believe the Bible provides an example for us of how to live and worship.  However, I recognize that it is a Word that was written in a specific time and place to a specific group of people; therefore, it is more likely to provide general guidelines than specific structures.

I believe that God did have a specific plan for sexuality in place when He created humans.  However, I think a variety of factors (including the Fall) have created an environment where one’s identity may not fit into that specific plan.  Also, whatever my spiritual thoughts may be on this matter, I do not believe that we can civilly withhold rights to same sex couples that we grant to heterosexual couples.

I believe that a government shutdown is the result of extremely wealthy men having a spitting contest and refusing to admit they have already lost.  However…, actually, there is no “however” to that sentiment.

So what am I?  The best I can tell, I disagree with everybody.  No one would want me on their side, because I cannot sell out to their side completely.  In the “agree 100% or be an idiot” equation, I always fall on the side of idiot.

So maybe that’s what I am.  I am an idiot.  An idiot who believes in a Creator God that is full of grace and mercy.  An idiot that believes we should all love our neighbors and work to create better lives for them.  An idiot who thinks it is greater to be generous than to hoard.

An idiot who believes it actually is okay to disagree and still be in relationship with people.

But what do I know?  I’m just an idiot.