Labels Are for Files, Not People

I went for an early morning bike ride the other day. It was beautiful weather with little traffic – it was perfect.

I came to a section on a two-lane road where a busy side street fed into the road. A large pick-up truck hauling a trailer loaded with two ATVs was at the stop sign, waiting to turn.

I made eye contact with the driver to make sure he saw me and gave him a friendly wave, thanking him for waiting on me before he turned.

There was a divider, about 100 feet long, to prevent people from passing in this area. Unfortunately, the bike lane ended in this same spot and the shoulder in the road temporarily narrowed. So, I was forced to ride just right of the white line.

I heard someone behind me and turned to see that it is my ATV friend. I knew my presence was slowing him down so I pedaled faster in attempt to get through the remaining 50 feet of this tapered section.

He didn’t wait. He punched his engine and started to pass me. Inches separated us and I gripped my handlebars nervously. Once his tailpipe was next to me he slowed down for a few seconds and then punched his engine again as black smoke surrounded me. The noise and black cloud caught me off guard and I wobbled but was able to stabilize my bike as his trailer passed.

My heart raced as fear flooded through me, along with many “what if’s”. What if I had of lost control of my bike?! What if I had of fallen into or under the trailer?!

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Anger replaced my fear and it took every ounce of my self-discipline not to raise my left arm and give him what the Beverly Hillbillies call the “California wave”. I was able to resist cursing him with my finger but internally I was cursing him with my thoughts. *@#% ATVers! (Definition: someone who drives an ATV – not to be confused with someone who watches TV.)

Judgmental thoughts followed and I played the us and them game in my head.

I’m a mom and you’re a moron! I’m someone’s wife and daughter and you’re a loser!

God’s spirit must have been with me that day – not because He saved me from a serious accident – but because He began working on my heart. He reminded me that some of my favorite people in the world are ATVers (and that I’d probably would like to own one, too, if I had enough money.)

He also reminded me of something my husband Mark had said, “We need to quit seeing each other as a cyclist and a motorist but instead to remember that we’re both people who love and are loved by someone at home.”

The night before Jesus was crucified, he spent time praying in a garden, asking God to help us be one…to be unified. It was one of his last petitions to his Father.

When a person is near death they focus on what is most important which makes me think that Jesus knew the future would bring many things would divide his followers.

We live in a world full of dividers: political parties, religion, health care reform, skin color, court cases, zoning laws, schools, denominations, etc.

If we’re not careful we’ll see our neighbor as a political party member, a religion, race, gender and forget that they are beautiful person created by the same hands that formed us.

We are moms and daughters, fathers and sons. We think, we feel, we cry, we laugh. We may have different interests and belief systems. We may belong to different political parties or churches – but we all have worth, deserve respect and can learn from one another.

I’m embarrassed how quickly my heart went to judgment that day on my bike. Regardless of who was right or wrong – God showed me that I have a tendency to label my offenders and put myself in the right. I must first focus on my own flaws.

When I put a label on someone or something, I possibly cover the answer that God has placed in front of me.

There are a many issues in our world that don’t have an easy answer. But, when we remove labels and allow God to unify us, it will be easier for us to hear his voice and see where he is leading us.

How do you handle adversity?

Are you like me and play us and them?



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