Dealing with labels
I think as humans we like to label things. We like to categorize the things we see, touch, hear, smell, and listen to. If something looks different or “out of the ordinary” we put it in a different group than everything else. We can create our own labels, but society has a big role in creating labels and stiching them into the very framework of who we are. Not all labels are bad, there are labels that warn you certain material or ingredients are harmful for your health. That is categorized as something that you should take into consideration for your safety and those around you, but it becomes a big problem when you start labeling people under your own ideals. At times, they aren’t even your ideals but your parents or others around you.
For example, the first time I was confronted with this idea of labeling people a certain way I was probably 10. I mean, I bet there were other times where I was labeled as something or when I labeled someone else, but this time I can vividly remember the feeling of being labeled. I was at a friends house. She and I were really close; I would spend a lot of time with her and her family. This was a family I respected and looked up to. They had a way of walking through life that seemed to me the way one should be. One day, we were watching tv in the guest room and the news came on. I can’t remember exactly what news channel or much of the specifics of what was showing, but I do remember it had to do with immigration. During that time, I did not have DACA and I was undocumented. I never told anyone about it because I was fearful. So I kept it to myself all the way until my senior year in high school. As I was getting up to leave, clear as day, I head my friend say “why don’t they just go back to their country?”
I was shocked. Because even though she had not specifically labeled me out (simply because she did not know my status) she inadvertently labeled me all the many labels they give undocumented people, aliens, illegals, criminals, and the list goes on. Ever since then, I never spoke to anyone about my immigration status, let alone my personal life. I had become just another undocumented person living in America. I know that because of that moment, my life took a drastic turn. I felt ashamed, alone, and silenced. I had gained a label that I never realized was how people saw me, not how I saw myself. I knew I was undocumented, but I had never been confronted with someone telling me, with such anger in their voice, how they wished I could go back to my own country. I simply became an outsider. This in turn affected my future relationships, friendships as I struggled to cultivate relationships that lasted more than a few years.
I never blamed her for labeling me the way she did. I mean, the immigrant label has always existed. But the problem started when I viewed myself as the problem, and an unhealthy cycle took root in my heart.
I think its important to remember that when we label someone a certain way, that sticks to them for a long time. That affects their self-esteem, their confidence and so many more things. That is why its so important to look at people through the eyes of the Father. In this, you remove labels that were manmade and you focus on the only label that matters: created for purpose and created to love and be loved by the Father. Not everyone believes in God and it can get confusing for many, but it is the only truth I know that has healed my heart.