“Mom-mom, can you cut this?” asked my four-year-old granddaughter.

“Cut what? Mom-mom is driving the car.” I replied.

“This tag. It’s really itchy.”

Remembering her auntie’s dislike of clothing labels, I pulled over and took care of the issue.

Labels are everywhere. Warning labels on food, choking hazard labels on toys, laundry and size labels on clothing are all useful. In today’s world I think we are quick to label people.  No need to list any of those labels here as I am sure a whole list ran through your mind as you read that last sentence.  I guess it helps us organize our world, but I think we are missing out. I’m not sure our definitions of words align. “What do you mean by________?”

Many words have become so charged that I don’t use them. For example, I have stopped using the word Christian to describe my spiritual beliefs and practices. I say follower of Jesus. Of course, not using the word Christian makes me guilty of judging others who do use it, but I feel I don’t want someone who doesn’t know me to lump me in with a group that isn’t really me.

I guess that’s the point knowing someone changes my words and perspective. It changes how I define them.  So maybe if I need to put a label on someone the first label should be fellow human. Then we could have coffee, tea, lunch, conversation and go from there.

Sidebar: If you know me, you know my thoughts make weird connections. I am terrible at that NYT game Connections because I can connect just about anything. This was helpful when picking music for recitals because I could just about fit any piece of music or idea into any theme. All that being said there are times labels are helpful when we are talking about armed gunmen, serial killers, etc.… This is where my mind went as I thought about labels. Strange right?