I’ve long admired writers who can sit down, write a post, and hit publish. Like, they write out their actual thoughts and feelings and let the world read them in real-time. I’ll probably edit this post about ten times if/before I publish it.
But I hope not. I want to grow in my ability to trust my own words. To trust my thoughts for being an authentic part of me I unashamedly share with the world because I believe in words and I believe in myself.
We are likely moving two weeks from today. Across the country. Into an at-risk neighborhood.
Which leads me to the first reason I’m having a hard time getting my thoughts out at the moment: labels. For people. Why? Why do I feel the need to tell you we are moving into an “at-risk” neighborhood to live among “the poor” and work with “broken” families?
The unfortunate truth is because those labels can sound sexy. Brave. Admirable. I want you to think those things about me. This is all subconscious, of course. But it’s there nevertheless.
I would never introduce myself that way to my new neighbors. Hello, I’m Lindsy and we’ve moved into this at-risk neighborhood to live with you poor people and work with your broken family. Wanna come over for lunch?
Can you imagine?
So why do I feel comfortable saying those things to you? To my friends? To our Partners? I’m still processing this, but I think, in part, it’s because we humans like to hang out with people like us. When we refer to a neighborhood as “at-risk”, it’s because we haven’t moved into it. When we refer to a woman as “vulnerable”, it’s because we haven’t become her friend. When we refer to a child as an “orphan”, it’s because we haven’t taken the time/money/sweat/tears to know their name.
When we’re with people who are like us – in color, economic status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc. – we don’t even have to consider how our words might affect those not like us.
My head is a swirl with thoughts on why we as humans feel the need to classify other humans. I can make the argument we were all created in the imago dei, I know in my heart this to be true, but the words “orphan” and “vulnerable” and “at-risk” still come out of my mouth. And they create an unbreachable chasm between “us” and “them”.
There’s no bow to tie neatly on this topic. I don’t have answers. I just know the more I learn about God and people, the more I just want to love people, not because it’s sexy or brave or bold, because we were all made in the image of the same God and we’re not projects – not any one of us – we are Image Bearers.
Have you considered the way we use labels to describe people not like us? What thoughts do you have on why we do this?