By Cindy Koch –
For a little boy in a house full of girls, there is a lot to learn. At two, he was shocked to find that only girls painted their toes. Three years old, he grew into an obsession with cars, never a Barbie. At four, his favorite color was black, apparently the opposite of pink. Five years old, and he learned how to burp just to gross out the sisters. And now at six, he finally laughs at dad’s jokes about trying on a pink dress. Ever since he was small, he searched out what it meant to be a boy, at least within the walls of our home.
We all have that longing to search for who we are. Call it meaning of life, purpose, or God’s plan. I want to figure out my place in this world. I want to discover who I am and what made me to be this way. I want answer about my past and my future. My son continues to discover his identity as he grows. We all seek and search for some kind of descriptive label.
For a blossoming teenager, there is a lot to learn. She was shocked to find the variety of people who exist past her front door. She grew into an obsession with friends and their opinions. Her favorite place to disappear was social media. She has learned that she can listen to a thousand other voices. And now at sixteen, she is thrown into a sea of labels. Ever since she looked around, she is overwhelmed with questions of identity, right past the threshold of our home.
Surely, labels can be wrong. Someone can give you an identity that you completely rebel against. Teenagers try prove their parents wrong all the time. Love ascends society’s labels in countless ways. Our culture cries continually against the arbitrary labels that are thrown around to each unique individual. There are some who identify as non-labelable who vilify the entire enterprise. But even still, in some way, we crave some kind of meaningful label.
For a new mom, there is a lot to learn. She was shocked into a world of sleepless nights and selfless days. She grew into an obsession with her children: development, organic, childcare, schools, and activities. Her favorites totally disappeared. She has learned to smile sweetly and have amazing birthday parties. And now, living the middle-class dream, she questions it all. Ever since she chose her own label, she struggles to believe it’s the right one, right in the comfort of her grown-up home.
Wrong or right, labels mean something. It is a powerful indication of identity. But the in the shame of our unloving world, we have been left alone to figure it out. The voices in our heart have been asked to scream louder than anyone else. We have been drilled not to impose, not to care, and not to speak a label for the sake of love. And we are abandoned in our own heart to find some kind of label.
For a grandmother, there is a lot to learn. She was shocked to hear of the sadness and stress of her children. She grew tired of the games we all play to mask our uncertainty. Her own voices from inside have proven deceitful, as loud as they were. She has learned to listen for a voice of truth, literally spoken into her ears from the outside. But now, bold and sure, she turns around and labels me. Ever since she told me who I was, I actually believed her.
Label me as God’s own child. Label me as a prostitute proclaimed bride. Label me with a taste of His blood. Label me with a watery death brought back to life. But say it loudly.