Day 6: Labels
I've been thinking lately about labels: how they function, what they mean, whether they're inherently good or bad or both or neither.
I have heard, often and loudly, that labels are bad news. That they rob people of their individuality and autonomy by pigeonholing and categorizing. And I thought the same thing, for years.
The truth of it is, though, that even while I protested labels in the abstract, certain labels actually meant a lot to me. "Christian", for instance. Some people shy away from the term because of the trappings of legalism, judgmentalism and religiosity. I, however, wear the badge proudly. I came to faith in Christ at the lowest point of my life and it turned my whole world upside down, provided meaning for my life. And when people follow Jesus, we call them "Christians".
They're a flawed people, those Christians, but they took me in and saved my life. I am honored to count myself among them.
For a time "Christian" was about the only label I was comfortable letting stick to me, but then, as is usually the case, my friend Sam provided me some perspective. He described a similar antipathy toward labels within himself, and how it was becoming unsettled by certain labels that meant a lot to him personally. "Ally", for instance, or "INFP".
The labels don't confine him, he explained; they help him describe certain aspects of his personality, or passions in his heart. They connect him with others who feel similarly passionate, creating communities across time and space.
This got me thinking, too, and I decided that, while I am a Christian first, or more descriptively child of God first (this is the descriptor which frames and orients all others), I am also a few other things. I'll wear a few other labels, proudly, for what they say about me.
Jordan Robert Magill (what is a name other than a label?)
A feminist (women are people too, guys)
An ENFP (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving [according to Myers-Briggs personality typing])
A Pentecostal (the Spirit is alive, people)
A pacifist ("turn the other cheek" - Jesus)
A Hufflepuff (black and yellow, these colors don't run)
An ally (to all marginalized groups, races, sexual minorities)
There are a few others, but those are the ones that really speak to me. For now anyway.
Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll be a stamp collector? or a Communist?
Probably not a Communist.