Listen Before You Label


Reach both hands out in front of you, palms facing up. If you’ve ever been called “crazy” make a fist with one hand. If you’ve called someone “crazy” make a fist with the other hand. Those are two less hands you have to hold another’s, to push yourself off the ground when you’ve fallen, and worst of all, two more hands to beat yourself up and destroy relationships of any kind.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary there are three distinct definitions of “crazy.”

  1. full of cracks or flaws: unsound/crooked, askew
  2. mad insane, impractical: erratic, being out of the ordinary: unusual
  3. distracted with desire or excitement; absurdly fond: infatuated; passionately preoccupied: obsessed.

Why have you ever called someone crazy? Certainly not to be helpful, not to show concern or interest in his or her situation. It was probably to shut down a situation, to assert your own logic or “sanity,” or to just feel right. But what does it do to the recipient of that insult? It’s a verbal slap in the face. Crazy translates to, “I don’t care how much pain you’re in, it’s disrupting my life and I can’t listen anymore.”

How do I know this? Because I’ve been on both sides. In my exhaustion, and my inability to help a loved one, I lashed out. It’s much easier to call someone “crazy” and exit the situation than to accept another person’s pain, especially your contribution to it. And, unfortunately, I’ve also felt someone weakening his or her support of my emotional well-being by using the same word to describe me.

If you break down the emotional timeline that could lead to the social labeling of someone as “crazy,” you’ll find how logical it is. A traumatic event, such as a break up, death in the family, or a simple rejection, illness, career instability, the list goes on and on. Yes, pain often finds rot in internal distress, but more often than not there’s an external factor dragging your friend down.

You know what’s the worst “condolence” to receive when suffering from any sort of pain? “There are other people in this world suffering far more than you,” that “You have no right to complain or feel bad because someone’s life is worse than yours.”

Is that what God meant for us? To bottle up our pain, keep it so close that we absorb it, until the pain becomes us? I just don’t think that’s the case. Honestly, that sounds crazy to me.

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