Thursday, April 11, 2013

2012 Grand Review: Taking Stock and Slapping on Labels

2012 was a year of redefinition. I went on a quest to more clearly define my position in life in every area.

"Labels" are paradoxical in a way that I can't quite decide which side I want to land on:

 love them because they help define?
 or hate them because they box-in and divide?

Determinedly remaining unlabeled feels fun and rebellious to me, yet clearly labeling seems purposeful and brave. I'm not even sure the purpose for this driving desire to define. Maybe it's my age or season of life. Or, it could be that in January I prayed this prayer:

"Lord, make my spirit restless whenever I think that the ways things are is the way things have to be."

This turned out to be a quickly answered prayer in the affirmative, because "restless" seems to be a defining word for my spirit this year. I began to look at life from a different angle and started questioning many long held beliefs and understandings. With no sense of purpose, but only driven by my gut, I started a quest to tighten my political views and have gone through something like a political soul-searching, which then led to a flurry of theological questioning, which led to a full on faith crisis, filled with emotion and gut-wrenching doubt.

With all the questioning, which essentially had its basis in labels, I was debris blowing in the wind. I felt like labels would ground me. I would regrow roots and become a planted, thriving, living thing again.

Eventually, somehow, the landing happened and I feel more settled and okay with the ambiguity of how I label myself. Life is not as black and white as we want it to be, and I don't want to force myself to fit into an uncomfortable box. Years ago, I discovered this book, "A Generous Orthodoxy" by Brian McLaren. The cover sold me before I even read the description or knew anything about the author--it had the longest subtitle I'd ever seen and I now claim it as my official label:

I am a "missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal/conservative + mystical/poetic + biblical + charismatic/contemplative + fundamentalist/calvanist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + green + incarnational + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent + unfinished CHRISTIAN.

Maybe, the bigger label the better?

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