My second grader’s teacher sent an email the other day about “ALICE” lock down procedures. Further down in the email, there’s a notice that they will have these drills 5 times a year. (5!!!). I Googled “Alice lock down” and learned I shouldn’t have. It’s freaky the kinds of training our teachers (to be frank, I’m guessing it’s ministers and other public buildings) need to have these days.
I’m a mom and step-mom. A wife. A lover. A daughter and daughter-in-law, a sister and sister-in-law. A friend. A best friend. An aunt and cousin and niece. A Senior Business Systems Analyst. A geek, a dork. A democrat. A moderate. A Catholic. A runner? An Athlete? A college grad. A grad school graduate. A blogger? A Minnesotan. A reader. An American (as in USA – American). A dog lover. A Disney-fan. A snob? (well, that’s not a question, that’s real). A recycler. A world traveler (once upon a time). A breadwinner. (choice of family, not by circumstances). A jerk. An evader. A poetry-hater. A mess. A Ms. A Twins fan. A Cardinals fan. A US soccer fan. A slob. A tomboy. A Caucasian.
We so often label the world around us, and eventually we label ourselves. Sometimes we like the label, because hello, when my girls shout “mommy” and mean me, or when Mike says “wife” and means me, that’s awesome. But when someone slanders another piece of me (dork, slob), it’s hard to step up to that. I don’t mean to suggest I’m perfect. I have plenty of people who love to help me improve in my life, or just point out my shortcomings. It’s just that I think we accept titles because it’s a way of defining ourselves. But, I don’t know if the paragraph above is me.
I just wish we could stop trying to pigeonhole people, and this starts with ourselves. Yes, some of these are roles that I fit. But I AM more than that individual role. Clearly. We are all. And every time I hear “just a”, it hurts at the heart level. We are so beautiful in some way or another to someone. All the titles in the world don’t (can’t, won’t) describe the uniqueness that is you. I don’t care if you are a partner in a law firm, a president of a college, a pastor of a church, a custodian, a high schooler, a drop-out, you are awesome. You are you. And guess what. You are so amazing to someone.
I want to be a runner. Does it matter than I am slower than molasses? If I run (jog, whatever), does it matter? Can I still be a runner if I look nothing like a marathoner? I don’t make it to church often, but many of my beliefs are founded… But I don’t believe in everything espoused by the Church right now… Who gets to decide what I am? Me? You? Some random person on the street? Does it matter what you or the random person think? Should it?
Many years ago, we lost one of my cousins. And I can remember thinking he’s going to heaven. He has to be. He’s left behind love. People who he loved and who loved him. People came from around the country to celebrate his life and pull together. How much better is that description of him, than say, college student, son, cousin, brother? All of those are a piece of him, but none of that is the whole. The whole of him was his heart and the intangible pieces he left behind.
We have a choice. We can choose to be loving and kind. Supportive and thoughtful. Or we can choose to be angry and horrible. Tortured and unloving. No title really can do justice to the legacy we (hope to) leave behind. So, more than anything, I wish we could work on our insides, and remember that no matter what title(s) we have (hidden, or not), they are not the sum of us. We are more than words.