Exploration of Labels


I have love hate relationship with labels. Have I said that here before? I think maybe I’ve discussed my disdain for them, but not the fact that they inevitably pull me. If you label something you are claiming to understand it, and sometimes I would like nothing more than to understand myself. So, this week’s post will be a little bit different–an exploration of my assigned labels. Hopefully that’s not too weird or boring? I don’t want to waste your time, but I will say this: Sometimes the more you understand others and their labels the more you can understand yourself.

I suppose the best place to start would be with my most evident label–Christian. This one has many variations, from Bible Thumper, which is my least favorite, to Jesus Freak, or Christ Follower, which I prefer. One thing I hate about this stamp is that it is so often synonymous to “hypocrite” or “faker”. When “Christian” is associated with those words it becomes an oxymoron because  Jesus was real; He is real, and even though He is perfect He didn’t shun the not so subtle sinners while He was on this earth. In fact, He spent His time with the delinquents of His day and called the religious hypocrites on their facade. “White washed tombs” isn’t a pretty label to bear from the Savior of the world. Jesus isn’t a faker, Jesus isn’t an elitist, so why are we letting a name for His followers come to mean those things? I live to challenge peoples’ perception of this label by representing Christ well.

I think the second most frequent label that I receive is some variation of “he woman” or the idea behind it. It’s interesting because I get these titles slapped on me in so many different tones with so many different intents. At first people will say it in surprise, my friends often use it as an expression of affection, other times it is turned into a taunt, and sometimes it’s used as a kind of praise word after I accomplish some supposedly manly feat. This one has been something I’ve wrestled with a bit, though I like to think I’ve come to terms with it now. It never really offended me (I’ve always said that it’s hard for mocking words to hurt someone who knows who she is.), but still it has incited much late night pondering over the years. I think my favorite variation of this theme thus far was being called “Chuck Norris’ daughter”. Someone was in a really weird mood when they thought that one up.

A third label, which I used to get a lot, but don’t get so much anymore is “homeschooler”. People say this word with about a hundred connotations from sheltered freak to automatically amazing intellectual. Both sides of the spectrum frustrate me, because really homeschoolers are human. We’re just like everyone else. We can be shy, outgoing, smart, average, struggling, hippie, preppy, Catholic, Mormon…you name it. Probably the most aggravating combination of labels to have is homeschooler and Christian. Just because I’m both doesn’t make me a timid, submissive, future homemaker kind of girl. Blimey Cow sums up my opinion on this label pretty well, if you can stomach the cheeseyness, that is.

Those are my top three. Maybe it’s weird that I’ve thought about them so much. Maybe it’s weird to write a blog post devoted to them. But then again, weird is another one of the labels I receive frequently, and I wouldn’t want to let my critics down. Sometimes it’s hard to separate myself from the labels. Even though I know who I am, I struggle to put it down in words, and so I wonder to what extent the words used to describe me are correct. Sometimes, for fun, I try to find more accurate descriptive words like empath, or codependant, but none of them are fully accurate either. I’ve often wondered how differently the people from separate spheres of my life perceive me. I’ve often wondered if I am the ever negatively referenced chameleon, because I know they see me differently. But that’s another post topic for another time. For now, I’ll end by turning this self searching to you. What labels have you received, and how do you feel about them? Someday God will give Christ followers a new label that fits perfectly, but for now it’s worth considering these earthly labels, and hoping to be labeled as He was.


Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Exploration of Labels

  1. “Weird” is the most common label people apply to me. 🙂 Perhaps the one that amused me the most was years ago when someone hired me to dig a ditch by hand and they came back at the end of the day and said, “You got it all dug? How did you do it? You’re like an animal!” And he went about muttering, “Unbelievable! Like an animal!” That’s my closest to Chuck Norris 😉

    My thought is that the people who truly know us don’t try to use labels to define us (though they may use them to tease us!) and the people who don’t really know us are the ones who try to put us in the box of some label. In my own life I’ve come to realize that worrying about the labels slapped on us by someone who doesn’t really know us is not worth it–but even so I still struggle with the whole Christian label for much of the same reasons you touch on.

    I think the “he woman” label is funny. I think “Chuck Norris’ daughter” is hilarious. That’s the sort of thing you put on a T-shirt 😀

    People do use labels to condemn or give approval, and to mark our degree of conformity. But should we seek conformity, or approval? When I look at the culture today I think not. The fact that someone calls you a “he woman” may say more about their own gender insecurity–or a desire for you to fulfil their vision of an insipid femininity–then about any flaws on your part.

    Oh, your post reminded me of two old posts I wrote which were a bit on the same topic. If you’ve already seen them then never mind:

    (1) http://silverwarethief.com/blog/2011/04/05/endearing-weirdness/

    (2) http://silverwarethief.com/blog/2011/04/15/how-do-you-answer/

  2. Your thoughts on labels are pretty much spot on with what I think, although I think that maybe I am slightly more obsessed with them than you. Not that I give them deep credence or anything. I just find them interesting…

    I had read your Endearing Weirdness post before, but not How do you Answer. Ironically, the thing that caught my attention most was the long Calvanism debate in the comment section. Your recurring “Why does God have to be understandable?” comment bugs me..but we’re not discussing that here. I am working on my reply to your e-mail
    slowly but surely.

    • Ah, yes, old comments…the thing a writer looks back on and thinks how he could have written the thoughts better, and why did he make so many spelling and grammar mistakes? 😉

      I think in my last long email I asserted myself that my supposition on the inscrutable nature of God bugs people, so you won’t find me disagreeing on that charge. That said, if/when your email response is written I look forward to hearing you give a Bible based explanation for how you eliminate the inscrutableness of God from the first part of Deut 29:29 Isa. 55:8-9 and 1 Cor. 1:19. As you say, not a thing for this blog comment but something for me to look forward too.

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