Monday, July 22 2024 - 2:32 AM
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Labels and Hope

Growing up I was teased by my classmates. I was teased for being tall and thin. I was teased because my mom gave us healthy lunches with homemade whole wheat bread while others ate store bought white bread. And I was teased because I read books and was often quiet. And the labels? All sorts of nicknames emerged, and with these unwanted titles, I felt like an outcast.

Assigning Labels

These days, too many children are isolated, teased, and bullied in school. Adults in the workplace who don’t fit a particular profile also face being ostracized, isolated and overlooked for promotions. Within neighborhoods, people are isolated based on race, bodily appearance and economics. Humans are pretty good at assigning labels for those who are different. We easily label others and they become the outcasts.

I have read several stories about people in the Bible who may have been challenged with being rejected. Lepers were disconnected from mainstream society. They had to cry out, “unclean,” as they strolled by others.

Joseph’s 11 brothers had nothing nice to say about him. When they got the chance, they sold him as a slave to get rid of him.

The Woman at the Well

The book of John, chapter 4 tells another story about the woman at the well. This woman was a Samaritan and Jews despised Samaritans. Because she came to the well to draw water at noon by herself, and not with the rest of the women in the village, that she was an outcast. In addition, she was on her sixth relationship and was not married to the current man in her life. This could be another reason to count her among the misfits. None of these facts stopped Jesus from having a conversation with her. She was someone valuable in His eyes and he engaged her in conversation. He offered her living water and gave her hope.

Just as Jesus gave this nameless woman hope, He offers the same to us today.

Our Hope Today

I am learning that when I spend time in the Word and in prayer, I can confront the sensitive places; the labels and the reasons for which I don’t belong. God takes these painful places and gives me the view that He values and loves me. He gives me living water and hope. I can belong to Him.

I have learned that God is good at disrobing the feelings of unworthiness, being left out, or being an outcast and giving us hope. He douses us in forgiveness and love. He strips those unwanted labels and we simply become a child that is amazingly loved by our Heavenly Father.

What if? What if we carried this message to those around us? How many would abandon being an outcast and feel at home with our Father? I am sure that many would walk through this life feeling loved, sensing the hope that God offers to each of us.

Pamela A. Williams writes from Southern California.

If you liked this, you may also like Accepting Outcasts 

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, RD

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, RD

is a dietitian, photographer, and writer in Southern California.

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