Labeling Separates, Loving Unites
A lady I worked with looked at me and remarked, “You are always so kind. You must be a Christian.”
I just smiled and said thank you.
She was not content to just let the conversation end there. In her statement was an implied question and she wanted an answer. So, she came right out and asked, “Are you a Christian?”
My response was, “I strive to follow Jesus’s teachings. I try to live as Christ-like as I can.”
“You are avoiding the question” she said. “It is a simple question, either you are Christian or you are not.”
“I consider myself a Christian, but I also consider myself a Buddhist, a Hindu, and sometimes an agnostic” was my reply. (It would have been wiser to simply say yes, and get on my way, but sometimes I just like to play, to see people’s responses when they receive unexpected answers.)
“You can’t be all those things. You cannot be a Christian and an agnostic. You either believe or you don’t believe” She insisted.
“If you are asking me to define myself, I am all of the above and more. But it appears you want to define me. In which case, my definitions are irrelevant.” I said.
that I have grown accustomed to throughout my life. She dropped the conversation and walked away, muttering something to herself, which I could not hear and most likely was happy to avoid.
Throughout the years defining who and what I am has become increasingly difficult. It is not that I do not have concepts about the nature of my being and my beliefs. It’s just that I do not like to bind myself. I don’t like to put myself into any box which limits my possibilities. My most common description, when asked to briefly introduce myself is that I am a student of life, who sees all things and all people as his teachers. Beyond that I really resist labels.
I am a perpetually evolving being. What I believed last week may have been replaced by a grander, more inclusive idea. Certainly what I believed when I accepted restrictive labels is only a small portion of what I now hold as my truth.
Even if we are striving to cling to the past, we are all continuously changing and evolving. It is my hope that this evolution is moving me towards becoming a greater expression of the Source of all that is.
I do not accept labels and I attempt not to label others. Life and everything in it is constantly changing. There is no such thing as a static existence. Life does not work that way.
Knowing this to be true frees us to let go. Letting go of what was, opening our minds and hearts to what may be, and dropping all need to control/limit what “is” are key elements to living a life of peace and perpetual joy.
This dear lady wanted to put me in a box. It was actually out of kindness that she sought to classify me as similar to herself, as a member of a group of people she liked or enjoyed. I was not attempting to be contrary, but I really do resist being labeled. Unfortunately, she avoided me from that day forward. She did not understand my response. It did not fit into her version of truth, so she withdrew her offer of acceptance.
I tell this story because I recently ran into this woman at a grocery store. This incident was several years ago, but when I saw her she was still clinging to some idea that I was not worthy of her recognition. I spoke to her, offering a kind look and a warm smile but she did not acknowledge that she had ever known me.
I moved on, opening my heart, even wider, and blessed this soul with all the love I could muster.
I don’t think I will ever understand why we need to fit people into categories before we can love them. Each person we meet is just another unique expression of our Self. What gives us the right to withdraw our love from those who are different from ourselves?
In my honest opinion we are all here to learn to become greater expressions of Love, not to fine tune our discriminatory skills.
At the end of the day, I feel infinitely more peaceful when I have given love freely, unencumbered by appearances, prejudices, and opinions. I guess that it is somewhat natural that I think this can apply to all of us. So my advice, to everyone who will listen, is to love recklessly, to offer copious quantities of love, with wild abandon. And most importantly, to give all this love with no hope or expectation that it will be reciprocated.
I find it best to simply accept the “What are you?” look, which many offer, as comic relief. In a world that so desperately needs loving kindness I always find it amusing that offering unrestrained love causes so much confusion.