Long ago in a far away era lived the label maker from Dymo.
It boasted of organizational progress bar none.
Do you even remember the 3D plastic strips that you'd stick somewhere and then they'd do one of two things:
It would either pop-off because the plastic was so thick that nothing could keep it on,
It would be the ONE strip that actually had some glue on it and somewhere it is STILL on a junior high locker today.
Happy Thursday friends.
How's November finding you?
At a Panera? Good girl!
It wasn't exactly the latest and greatest, BUT those of us who actually dreamed of having one of these gadgets imagined sunset afternoons punching our little heart away- finally getting our teenage lives in some semblance of order.
Two, three, ten years passed and it came back in a more digital form.
Now you didn't have forearms of steel to punch your name in the strip. It was slender, sticky and even transparent!
These were the 90's and this was the hope of the future!
Now you could expand your skills to stick "scarves and gloves" on that TRANSPARENT bin just in case you don't believe what you can actually SEE inside of it.
This label maker would be the ticket to "Neat-town."
And so it goes with gadgets.
Speed us up-to-date and now we have a little Japanese woman helping us find out what really sparks joy in our house and if a shirt or pair of shoes don't fit the bill, well, be sure to thank them on their way to the curb.
I'm convinced that the reason that Marie Kondo was so popular was because she came to homes, smiled, told the homeowners that their home was perfect for them and that she indeed loves messes.
If that's not a reality t.v. "win" I'm not sure what is.
If someone came and told me that they loved my mess I'd certainly put them on my Christmas card list.
Everyone wants the "magic" of tiding up.
Everyone wants to label and categorize and straighten their lives up.
I just wipe out the spice cabinet and feel like I'm successful.
Label makers remind us that we are in charge. We are taking back our life and calling our piles of things whatever we want to.
This is as old as time.
Seriously, can't you see Eve labeling the fruit trees.....?
Recently we were out to dinner with friends and took the whole gang with us.
This is quite an ordeal for our family of eight and a privilege for the kids to go out to eat for a change.
We were making introductions and I found myself helping our friends find our children, oldest to youngest and noticed myself making labels for them as I went around the table.
No, I didn't punch their names on a piece of plastic and stick it on their foreheads, but I was labeling them none the less.
"This one is our book-worm, this one loves to talk, and that one is more of the Eeyore of the bunch."
After a bit I felt the weight of my own words sitting right on my heart.
These WERE the invisible plastic names that I made sure stuck to them like the one still holding on for dear life in my 8th grade locker.
I didn't mean to be harsh or insensitive, but wanted our friends to have some sort of point of reference with each child.
Kind of a large family Mom's right of passage.
A day or so passed and I began to remember key moments in my childhood, like when a teacher told me that I was a "motor-mouth."
And so the list went on in my head.
You know what I mean.
That person who told you that you had "manly hands,"
"a large beak of a nose,"
"you were a slow learner,"
"you were too sensitive," or
"you don't have any common sense."
Someone takes their hands and painstakingly squeezes the label maker, turning the letters to line up and form whatever label they want to stick on you.
Problem is, it may not visibly stick ON you, but it sticks WITH you for a good long season.
I had always heard that the older you get, the more you forget that your body is growing older and think you can just jump-in with the young-guns and participate in some physical activity.
Only to be icing or heating whatever part of your body you bruised, broke or sprained a few moments later.
This always made me laugh, but what I didn't expect was the fact that the same insecurities just hang around for as long as you are living.
Somewhere I was sold the deal that as your body matures and ages, your insecurities just fade into oblivion and you no longer worry about growing your bangs out because someone told you in grade school that you had a billboard-sized forehead.
I've actually been anticipating some "Boho" stage where I wear expensive stackable bracelets that gain attention when I tell someone how easy it was for me to go gray and that I've never felt more secure and peaceful in my life.
Oh no friends.
Those labels are still there and you still fight them to become a stronger you.
I will say that the 40's are better than the 30's and I am anticipating that the 50's will be the same and so on and so forth.
You are more confident in who God has made you to be, quirks and all and you are more willing and able to fight the nagging pieces of your past....but they are still there.
You realize now that you were a "motor-mouth," because you crave connection through words. That you are "sensitive" because you are able to see hurts in a way that someone else may not, and feel something deeper than others.
And I am more aware at 40 something what the labels I place on those around me will mean to them 20, 30 or 40 years from now.
Labels make us feel in control of things.
Wouldn't we just love to have control of just.one.single.solitary.thing?
They give us the ability to compartmentalize things and in doing so, allow us to feel accepted and up-to-par with everyone else.
But w're not supposed to be comparing ourselves, placing some standard on our home, our kids, our marriage or our own life that God himself has not chosen for us.
(I know it's a banger of a statement. Go back and read that again.)
We are supposed to open God's word and allow it to show us what our true labels are.
Accepted, beloved, lovely, of great worth, sanctified, washed clean, seated with Christ himself, loved, known... and so the list goes.
I began to wonder what it would mean to my children if I wasn't so quick to label them with my own humorous words and thoughts over them, but with God's truth.
"kind," "tender-hearted," "wise," "gracious," "her Father's joy," and the like.
I wonder what that would call them to, give them eyes of faith to see in themselves that God has called them towards.
I wonder if instead of worrying about a big forehead if they will be confident in their talents, using them to lift up those who are struggling under the weight of their own labels.
What an amazing opportunity we have as Mothers and friends and women of God, to peel-off labels stuck on those around us, even our own children, and replace them with something divine and freeing.
The Bible is full of illustrations of folks who didn't have their homes in order, but found satisfaction and real grace in the face of Jesus Christ.
It's not about sparking joy in your home because you have surrounded yourself with neatness and less to dust.
The Lord knows we all keep that skirt we don't have a chance of reviving before his return.
It is about finding your joy in the standing we have in Christ Jesus himself. He our great shepherd and guide, teacher and king.
Looking to Him, the author and finisher of our faith,
The true label-maker.