Brand names and designer labels all have their logos: Rolex, Neiman Marcus, Rolls Royce, Harley Davidson, Gucci, Louis Vuitton to name a few. These labels are driven, worn, or purchased to impress, enhance, amaze and influence.

Yet often people are labeled in a way that does the opposite. They are forever marked or tarnished by an incident, gossip, or preconceived prejudices. Sadly, once marked with that indelible ink it is almost impossible to erase.

It was the middle of March and I arrived home from work tired and spent. It had been a difficult day. The house was a mess and as I began cleaning it up before my husband arrived home I remembered he had a late meeting, so I had a little time to relax.

While sitting at the dining table my 20 year old daughter came in holding a gift bag. Sheepishly, she sat down at the table and handed me the bag. With an undiscernible look on her face, I accepted the bag.  Wondering why she would give me a gift now, I glanced inside.

As I moved the tissue paper inside I saw what it was and my heart stopped. Looking back up at her I saw her excited smile, but I didn’t respond with enthusiasm. My daughter was pregnant. My first born was going to be an unwed mother…..AND…. the baby was going to be of mixed-race.

Having never imagined or experienced this ordeal, my husband and I went for counseling. A counselor at our church that had so many letters after her name, I couldn’t count.

Sitting in her office pouring out our hearts; the shock, the hurt and the concern she sat politely and listened. She folded her hands under her chin and quite matronly began to tell us of a place out of state that took in unwed mothers. She knew the director personally and could contact her for us.

I am sure that both of our jaws hit the ground.

We were not there to talk about getting rid of our daughter! I was…and still am….appalled at her suggestion. We wanted to gain insight on how to deal with our emotions and to cope with our new situation. We were NOT going to hide, ship off or shrug off our new circumstances. Yet I learned a lesson that day of my daughter.

She became labeled….

The next label came years later when I received a phone call from my husband that completely shattered any confidence in being a good parent. My other daughter who was in her twenties was on drugs and had been for a while. Each of her “suppliers” were young adult people I knew and loved. How could this be?

A drug addict had always been in my mind someone who was despicable. They were low-life’s who had nothing better to do than stupid drugs. My 60’s mentality was sketched with homeless, poor, heroin shooting junkies that were morally and socially unacceptable. I didn’t like those kinds of people and I would never associate with them.

Having never touched drugs in my life, I was now “drug” into that world having to learn about rehab and detox all along feeling….. livid. My own daughter was a drug addict!

She was labeled……..

Years later another label came. Huddled in the back of the house talking in hushed tones we waited for the birthday girl to arrive. Someone was keeping watch for their car to arrive.

Standing in a back corner by the couch, my husband and I said hello to a fellow we knew but hadn’t seen in years. He sat arrogantly on the couch with both arms stretched across the back. He introduced himself as if we didn’t know each other. His son and my daughter had been in the same class year after year in elementary school.  We had rented our house to one of his relatives, so I thought he was kidding.  I flippantly said our names because I seriously thought it was a joke.

He mulled the name over and over in his mind and then responded with, “Rausch, Rausch……. Oh yeah…. It was your son that did all that damage at the senior prank.  Yeah… I heard about that. Didn’t he set the football field on fire?”

My heart sank.

Yes, my son had been part of a senior prank that went awry. But this guy didn’t know the truth and it made me wonder how many other people thought like he did. I couldn’t go around telling everyone the truth of the situation for it didn’t matter.

He was labeled………

I’ve learned labels are constricting. They can keep us stuck believing false beliefs.

My first false belief – an unwed mother was socially unacceptable.  

I was devastated by my daughter becoming an unwed mother. What would my church friends think? How does it make me look? It was NEVER about me to begin with, but I made it that way because of labels. I had no clue what that baby would mean to our lives and how God would use her to change our family for the good. (Romans 8:28)

My second false belief – all drug addicts were low-life.

Drug addicts can simply be one addicted to medication of any kind. I learned plenty going through classes with my daughter and my wrong pre-conceived beliefs. My 60’s mentality was erroneous. 

Addiction is growing at an accelerated rate and comes in many forms. Good, loving, respectable people have innocently been taken captive – getting sucked into its vortex.

I didn’t like being forced to learn what I did about drugs. I wish I could have learned differently in lieu of a personal situation, yet again God used it for good. Those false beliefs needed to be uprooted and my new found insight used for God’s glory.

My third false belief – people don’t want to believe the best.

People love lies and gossip. Some thrive on slamming other people or their kids. At times it appears people LIVE for drama. Never knowing the facts, they spread what they think they know and a completely fabricated lie has taken root. Sharing gossip is similar to throwing feathers in the wind. You won’t be able to chase down every spoken word.

Each of the stories are actual situations this Rausch clan lived through.  This is my family that I love with every fiber of my being. Regardless of what others feel or think, their labels don’t matter. I love them regardless of anything they have done, said or been involved in.

In conclusion, yes, you and I can wear designer labels, drive prestigious cars, or shop in brand name stores. But I personally will think twice before I label a person because of appearances or situations. For I have been wrong too many times……

“Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open” Acts 10:34 & 35 (The Message)