i know i label people and put them in boxes that aren’t of their choosing. so i’m not suggesting i’m better than anyone else on this. but this week i’m finding myself weary of the boxes people put me and/or ys in. i’m not mad (that happens sometimes), and i haven’t had my buttons pushed (that definitely happens!). it really is more of a shoulder-slumping weariness that comes from being mis-pegged, or maybe moreso, from not being known.
of course, people have been wrongly maligning youth specialties since it’s 2nd day of life; and i have no sense that this will ever stop. much of this is because of our passionate calling (which has truly become the core of my life-calling — i feel this in my bones) to serve the whole church, to love the whole church — including those who are different than us. those on the more conservative end of the church often brand us as liberals (or eastern mystics!), and those on the more liberal end of the church often brand us as evangelicals (and, when they use that term, they mean it in a very derogatory way!).
in one sense, there’s very little we can do about these assumptions or accusations, other than stay the course, and hope and pray we one day have an opportunity to serve those people, providing a context for a shift in perspective.
but at a personal level, it’s not always that easy. and it’s especially not easy when the assumptions or labeling come from people with whom i’m in relationship (as opposed to people i’ve never met who are making assumptions about me). and i had two of these yesterday, which is what’s causing the weariness right now.
both came from working relationships (not friendships outside of work), and both have me pegged, to one degree or another, as liberal (i’m sure some of you reading this would just tell me to take that as a compliment!). i gave a devotional at a meeting yesterday, and was told afterward, in what was supposed to be a very strong affirmation, that, since ys is considered by many to be shallow and liberal, it was surprising and nice to see so much depth. really, it was an affirmation, and i need to take it that way. but it’s difficult to not sense of bit of that “wow, you’re not half as stupid as i thought you were” sting to it.
the second is more difficult and wearying, because it’s a new relationship i’ve been putting a good deal of energy into, and has been budding into something pretty cool. and yesterday a heaping helping of assumptions/characterizations tumbled out that have threatened to derail the whole relationship. this time, it wasn’t so much a characterization of me and ys as ‘liberal’, as it was a characterization of me and ys as shallow and unfocused.
there are a couple first-blush responses i could run to that would get me through the weariness, but not take me anywhere good. for instance, i could be dismissive and chalk these up to ingnorance. but these people aren’t ignorant, and that thinking would bring an end to any real relationship with them. or, more tempting for me, is to go to a place of spiritual arrogance, along the lines of: “god, thank you that i am not like these people of limited perspective; thank you, god, that i am more like you.” uh, yeah. you get my point. that would merely be a coping mechanism that, in the long run, undermines everything — my intimacy with god, my own growth and self-awareness, the relationships themselves and all my other relationships.
even in typing all this out, i can sense the presence of the arrogance monster crouching in the corner of the room, smiling at me.