the labels that bind us

Guess what? I’m divorced.

I don’t think I’ve actually ever typed that here in my little corner of the bloggy world. Why? Gosh, I don’t know. Because I hate that word? Yeah, I hate it. And no, that hatred hasn’t dissipated for me even though it’s been over three years now. But the fact of the matter is, it’s true.

Here’s the thing. I just had a friend post the other day all of these awful things that she identifies with. My response to her was almost as much a response to myself when I shared that these things are just labels that can be placed on us. I still have my ‘Hi, my name is Connor’s Mom’ sticker on my nameplate at work. Now that’s a label I can identify with but at the end of the day? It’s just Staci. ‘How d’ya do?’

I could probably post the same (or a greater) number of labels that I identify with. Some of them are just awful. Some are downright adorable. I won’t list them all out because then that would just be too tempting to question (and potentially make sport of) #amiright? I mean, when I tell someone I’m divorced (or more often, that I was previously married or that my son’s dad and I aren’t together anymore), there is that momentary awkward conversation of, ‘oh, how long were you married?’ or ‘oh, how long have you been … divorced?’ Or sometimes, just the 10-second sad face. I sort of want to ask if we’re having a staring contest before I realize that they are trying to determine how they feel about it; or maybe if they can even empathize.

But you can’t have empathy unless you’ve been there, and even then, sometimes, you still haven’t been there, if you know what I mean. I still just want to stop them and say, ‘nope, it’s just Staci. and I’m Connor’s mom.’ P.S. We don’t eat gluten either. And no! It’s not a fad diet up in here.

Why the rant? Well, it seems as though we’ve all become experts at attaching labels to, and subsequently, judging our fellow man or woman instead of actually just knowing them. We’ve suddenly become acutely adept at lumping people into a category and then blasting them in social media. And guess what? That’s dumb. Regardless of which side you’re on (top, left, bottom or right).

I can relate with people who have gone through divorce … some more than others. I can also say I can relate, in a sense, to people who are ‘different’ than what the standard says about the American family. But does that make me any less of a human being as a result? Ummm .. no. And does that mean that you get to judge me because my sin is greater than yours? No. No thanks. Quick question. Who decides whose sin is greater?

So, as a Christian who deeply loves the Lord, I’m just going to put myself out there and say that the ONLY person that gets to review my complete stack of labels and subsequently judge me is the man I meet on judgment day. And I would want every other ‘different’ human being to find that same peace. I guarantee you it is freeing to come to that realization. (P.S. I think we’re all just a bit special, #fortherecord).

I used to worry about my labels and that they would define me to the point that I would be shunned in a number of circles, but instead, I’ve been able to create some new bonds and deepen some relationships that I might not have been able to otherwise. And they’ve made it easier to love my fellow man and woman where they are, for who they are and for whatever their story may be. That is what I believe I’m instructed to do so that’s what I’m gonna do. And if you want to debate about that, let’s just talk. In person. I refuse to participate in any toxic social media conversation about how my sin is greater than or less than yours and how my label divides us. I’d prefer to focus on the truths that bring us together. Maybe that’s naive. Maybe it’s smart. I’ll let Him be the judge.

</rant>

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously. – Micah 6:8 (The Message)

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