Humans like to put things in boxes.
The world just makes more sense when it can be divided into neatly. If we can categorize, label, and file everything around us, we can comprehend what surrounds us. Instead of dealing with the fact that we live on a messy, complicated, chaotic spinning planet, we try to sanitize and organize our existence until it becomes understandable.
Although we can effectively do this to many things, the problem comes when we try to put people into boxes.
Boxes just don’t hold people very well.
The second that you slap a label on someone, they will defy it. The moment you think you have them figured out, they will do something absolutely unexpected. A whole person is very hard to define, so we find ourselves resorting to tribalism, picking a defining characteristic, and categorizing them based upon it.
What a terrible way to look at a person.
We all do it; we try to simplify and sanitize the people who surround us, the people who have been made in the image of a powerful and extraordinary Creator. If someone is shaped by and made in the image of the One who created galaxies, E minor, and pine needles, how could they be easily boiled down and boxed up?
Everyone’s life runs on parallels, inverses, and opposites. Look to your own life-do you see it?
I can start my day by beating up on a punching bag and end it wearing red lipstick and high heels. I’m a conservative who supports drug legalization, conservation, and anti-cruelty legislation. I’m an Iowan who is actually a city dweller and knows practically nothing about agriculture and farming.
And that’s just the surface.
Look at yourself and you see an enigma, realize that the puzzle will never be completely figured out. Yet, we have a difficult time quenching our desire for the easily understandable and simplified when it comes to all who surround us. Maybe, we just need to step back and realize that people are complicated.
Love is complicated, war is complicated, day-to-day life is complicated-how could the people living out these realities be any less so?
Boxes don’t hold people very well, but that’s okay. May we learn to let go of the labels and instead start accepting that people are COMPLICATED, messy, and have more sides to them than we’ll ever see. We live on a planet that spins and is perfectly held in a balance that keeps us from dying, a world where spiritual life and spiritual death collide on a daily basis-it’s okay if we don’t have everything figured out.