Saturday, June 21, 2008

Label Maker

Anyone who knows me knows that organization is not my strong suit. Thank goodness for my sweet friend Norma who shows up every Friday to make sure that my house is more than presentable and that things are in place.

The odd, ironic, totally-doesn't-make-sense thing, though, is that I label. I love to label. My spice cabinets are labeled to keep the spices in order alphabetically. Toy bins are labeled. Canisters have labels on them. Drawers, cabinets... Labeled, labeled, labeled.

Go figure.

Unfortunately, my love of labeling has spilled over from my house to life in general. I think as human beings our tendency is to label, to classify everything around us. It helps us process, it helps us identify, it helps us relate. We label circumstances, motives, and people.

Our "labels" for people: Nice, Successful, Smart, Attractive, Wealthy (or perhaps the opposite of those). Worth my time, Someone I want to be seen with, Secure. Whether we know people or not, we label them by what they do, how they dress, how they carry themselves, our first impressions.

I have had another label in my collection: Issue-People.

Issue-People are the people who always have something going on, bringing them down. Never a bright spot in life. Always concerned with something -- sometimes actual, sometimes not. I've wondered how it was that some people are Issue-People with all the "bad luck" so to speak, while others are relatively issue-free.

But after thinking about this label, I have re-considered and re-classified.

Here's the truth: We all have issues. No one gets through life without them. Even "issue-free" people have issues. And circumstances. And "bad luck". So the difference is not that there are Issue-People and Non-Issue-People.

The difference is how we handle those issues and circumstances.

There are Those who rise above and Those who succumb. Those who become stronger and more determined because of the pain or Those who stay comfortably victimized to their circumstances. There are Those who will buckle under what life has handed them and Those who plant their feet firmly and are not moved.

I keep up with two women who are amazing examples of Those who rise above. One I've known my whole life, my Mother, who has been labeled "Cancer Survivor". Still going through chemotherapy, she has become stronger because of this chapter of her life. You can follow her journey here.

Another woman I have come to love, though I have never met her, is a lady named Angie. Angie and her husband, Todd, had a little girl, Audrey, who died just hours after she was brought into the world. Maybe you can fathom that kind of loss. I can't. Even harder to fathom is how this Mother is able to rejoice and grieve at the same time. Here is her amazing, encouraging story.

Considering what these two women have faced, they would be completely justified in being Issue-People. Letting the hard events of life become their label and their identity. Pulling the covers over their head in the morning and refusing to face the world. But these two women will not succumb.


One thing. One thing they have in common.


Read these women's stories. You'll find that they are not their stories at all. They are stories of God's faithfulness. They are stories of commitment. They are stories of using circumstances to tell people that God is good all the time. Even in our issues. They know that worrying means telling God that we don't think He's big enough to do His job. They know that fear means we take back control over our lives, which we never controlled in the beginning and never really will ever control. They know that hard days and grieving and loss do not change who God is or what He can do. And they know that valleys are where, if we let Him, God will be more visible than ever before.

They know their label: Child of God. Cared for by God. Loved.

A label that fits all of us, actually.

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