One of the small groups I'm in is reading an amazing book called Godspeed. Last week's chapter spoke a great deal about how we so often stigmatize people. In our mind, We place them in a particular group of people. This agitates me to no end. And I think the church does this almost more than the world sometimes.
My friend Kate's family recently spent a year in Kenya working with Agape. She says she's now in the "missionary" category. When she runs into someone she knows, she doesn't get asked questions any other 17 year old would. Most of the time the response is "Hey, you're that chick who was in Kenya. So how's Africa? That's what you do, right?" No. She doesn't do that. She's a teenager who works and plays and loves and is looking at college. But people don't ask her about that.
I too often don't feel "known." When people approach me, they constantly say "Liz the clown! How's the clowning world?" Or "Hey. You still teachin' Zumba?" And there's always "So, got another trip planned to Disney?" While I do love these things, they aren't me. They aren't my deepest passions. They don't make up some of my largest enjoyments, desires, & talents. But it's not too often others take any time to learn about the rest. So in their minds I am a clown. A fitness nut who spends all my time at the gym. Or a Disney freak who talks about the parks all day. Okay. Maybe that last one's happened. But still........I'm much more than the categories people often place me in. Those things always get tacked onto my name as if they're part of my identity. But I'm not those things. My name is Elisabeth.
We don't take time to get to know some of the other things that may be important to someone. We simply see something about them and place them in a category. Let's take more time to listen to each other's lives.