I watched an interview this morning online. It was an okay thing until the end when the interviewee said something like, "behind every condition is a person". The interviewee then told the story of his wife who had MS, and in her final years it was a struggle for her to communicate. He looked into her eyes and said, "Your brain is still so very active". To which she managed to say, "Yes it is". It made me think that-- behind every label is a person.
Labels warn us that a product is poisonous, labels tell us what ingredients are in a product - if we have food allergies. Labels used to describe people can also help us to learn about differences, a person is gay, or Muslim, or a recovering "fill in the blank". But my observation is that we assign a label, and then accurately or not, we make a lot of assumptions, but we forget that, behind every label is a person.
"There's someone in a wheelchair!" Yes, there is a person who is worthy of respect and compassion, deserving of love and our time, who is created in the image of God....and they are in a wheel chair. "There's a gay person, an obese person, there's a Muslim, there's a Conservative, there's a business person." and behind all of those labels is a person who laughs and hurts, who cries and who wonders, a person who loves as badly as they want to be loved,"
I wonder if the beauty of Jesus is that he saw past labels. He didn't stop at the label, a woman caught in adultery, he looked deeper. He didn't stop at the label, a man possessed by a demon, he went deeper. He didn't even stop when a girl was labeled dead, he touched her.
Then again, maybe Jesus read the label: created by God, loved by God, forgiven by God, saved by God, a child of God.
How do we use labels?