A few days ago, I was preparing to put my seven-month-old down for her nap. She had had an especially wakeful night the night before, and I was exhausted. I had good intentions to get some writing done while she slept, but I knew my mind was too tired. It would be more beneficial to do something to refresh myself. I remembered the orange Fanta that had been sitting in the fridge for a few days, and I decided that was the opportune time to read a book and enjoy a little caffeine-free treat as a pick me up. Besides, maybe if I skipped caffeine she would sleep better? No; her sleep patterns seem to be a mere product of chance.
I brought the Fanta with me to get the baby to sleep as a sweet promise of refreshment as soon as I could put her down. As I gazed at the Fanta while I waited for her to be just sound enough asleep, my mind began to wander. Fanta is a product of the Coca-Cola Company, right?
Probably not what most people wonder before they enjoy a treat. However, my dad has been working in the food industry for over thirty years, and growing up it was not uncommon to see him check a label to find out who made that particular product. So, I picked up my Fanta and checked the label. And yes, Fanta is a product of the Coca-Cola Company. However, as I started to read other parts of that label, I started to think: a label can tell you a lot about a food item. And just like food items, we are all wearing labels that can tell others a lot about us.
I would venture to say that most of my readers would wear the label “Christian.” And hopefully others can see that as a positive differentiator in your life. Past that, we probably wear a lot of labels that are unique. Those who know me might think of me as a children’s pastor’s wife, or as a mother. Maybe some would think that I wear the label of writer. Or perhaps you know that I’m a bookworm or that I love shoes. Those are probably some of the most obvious labels in my life, and I’m sure by now you’ve thought of some of the labels you wear as well. But that afternoon when I laid my daughter down for her nap and opened up my long-awaited Fanta, I noticed something: the label may have been able to tell me a lot, but it didn’t tell me some of the most important things about my soft drink.
The label could never tell me how wonderful that sweet artificial-orange flavor would be to my taste buds; it couldn’t tell me how that little afternoon sugar rush would somehow get me through the rest of the day. And the labels that we wear don’t scratch the surface of who we really are on the inside either.
Did you know that I’m afraid of heights? A friend of mine learned that recently as my hands turned clammy while standing on a chair so she could pin up my dress to hem it for me.
Did you know I speak Spanish pretty well? I’ll never forget the shock on my college best friend’s face when I started speaking Spanish one Saturday while out soul winning.
Did you know I’ve been to forty-eight of the United States? I’m sure I’ll make it to Alaska and Hawaii someday!
There are thousands of other little things that go into making me who I am. And I’m sure there are thousands of little things about you that make you who you are. Deep relationships are so rare, but they make life so much sweeter. In order to develop those relationships, you have to look past the labels people are wearing. You have to take time to get to know what’s really on the inside.
This usually happens pretty easily in a marriage relationship by merit of the fact that you’re spending many hours together. My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning little things about each other over the last three years, and I’m sure there’s enough to keep us learning for a lifetime. The fact that my husband talks in his sleep is part of what makes him the unique person he is. And I’m always thankful for a laugh in the middle of the night when I’m up with the baby.
But I think we’re missing out on some great blessings when we don’t take the time to develop relationships with others that look past the label. It does take time. And it requires you to be willing to offer something of yourself. Let your conversations go past the surface. Be willing to open up. You are sweet and wonderful, and there’s nothing artificial-orange about you.