Label = Individualization
31 Days in My [Insert Label Here] Skin:
[ I n d i v i d u a l i z a t i o n ]
According to StrengthsFinder, one of my top strengths is apparently “Individualization.” When I read up on this a few days ago I couldn’t help but chuckle aloud:
“You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals.”
Apparently, this very strength is the reason I just couldn’t bring myself to settle on one particular label to hash out over this 31 day writing challenge.
When I first had the idea of doing something similar to what Diedra Riggs did in 2012, my original thought was to, like Deidra, tackle (and attempt to breed empathy around) my most politically-controversial role: a police wife. I came up with several different possible blog post topics to talk about and had several different stories I planned to share so that people could gain empathy for my life just like I gained empathy for Diedra’s life by reading her stories.
And honestly, that was my plan. I thought “I know I would be fascinated if a fellow cop or cop’s wife wrote something like this; hearing these types of stories is so needed in today’s “I don’t understand you so I don’t care what you have to say” culture.”
And I’m pretty sure people would be interested in reading those types of stories.
But then I just kept thinking about how that— my role as a police wife— is not ALL I am. Yes, I’m married to a cop. Yes, I’m white. Yes, my husband is also white. And yes, telling our stories would absolutely cultivate empathy in a world that is so divided over issues surrounding these particular labels right now. But the truth is I just don’t want to talk about that part of my life for 31 straight days! Because although those labels are a part of me, there is also so much MORE. And I wanted to have a chance to be able to talk about my whole self. (Which, just to clarify, is pretty much what Deidra did, too, but I just didn’t even want to start with the premise that any one label can even remotely explain the depths of who any of us are.)
Acknowledging that any ONE of someone’s labels or roles are just ONE SLIVER of who they are as a whole person— that is the first step to really understanding anybody who is different from us or anybody who we think we won’t like just because of one particular label that is attached to them. Once we can see each other for ALL we each are— recognizing that one’s skin tone is part of it, one’s profession is part of it, one’s socioeconomic status and family of origin and habits and lifestyle and faith and interests and personality type and strengths and spiritual gifts and talents— once we can recognize that all of this combines to make each one of us US, we will then be able to start truly listening when the folks around us are talking about what is going on inside their hearts and lives.
And I think maybe that is a great starting place for bringing healing and compassion back into our splintered world.
Every single human being on this planet has been crafted in a certain way and is deeply loved by the God who created them. Each one of us was born with a certain set of gifts and talents and personality, and each of us has a unique and worthwhile story to share about how we have become who we currently are, why we think and act the way we do, and why we love the things and the people we love.
Each of us has a story. And it matters.
*To get to the main menu, where you can view and click on everything I end up posting for this 31 Day Challenge, click here.
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What about you?
Tell us about a time when you heard someone else’s life story and grew in compassion for them. In what ways do you think it would be helpful to truly sit and listen to someone else share their journey of why they are the way they are? Who can you listen to this week to hep grow your capacity to empathize with people who are different from you?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.