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Label It
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By Helena Smrcek

This gardening season I committed to labeling. I took a roll of white plastic gardening tags out of a storage cupboard and armed myself with a Sharpie. There would be no guessing if I should push a tomato cage around the thriving little plants or opt for tall poles.

Same went for peppers. No more predictions if the fruit would be sweet or spicy. During my past gardening endeavours, even simple peas presented an enigma. Once the first leaves showed up, they all looked the same, and gone was any memory of which row was Sugar Snap and which would need shelling.

As I diligently scribbled the correct names carefully copied of the seed packets I thought of my sister-in-law. Not only she has the chutzpa to run a business, be an awesome wife to my brother, and a hockey mom to two skating fanatics, but she also possesses a certain brand of rationale that I often lack.

Over the years I have been carefully observing her no-nonsense approach to life, business, and family. Where I would ponder, discuss and sometimes explode, overwhelmed with emotions, she labels things. Calmly.

Don’t misunderstand me. When our kids reach an important milestone, her eyes tear up, as she truly feels the moment, and appreciates the blessings in our lives. I watched her many times, at the edge of an arena bench, as her boys played for gold; she lived every second of the game. But even though we have known each other for over two decades she still astonishes me from time to time by uttering the simplest truths.

This one time we talked about something my daughter did for a friend, and my sister-in-law simply stated. “But that’s her. She cares for everyone.” Although I knew that, I never bothered to put a label on it, and somehow that short declaration gave the situation the validity it deserved. Once she simply stunned me with, “he adores you, and would do anything for you,” statement pertaining to my husband. It stuck with me, and I think of it often, realizing that for the trees, I sometimes miss the forest.

During another visit we talked about a relative, not understanding their choices, and here came another one of her truisms. “But they chose to live this way, an even if you’d hate it, there is nothing you can do. It was their choice.” That simple assertion empowered me to stop the endless rescue plots, my mind focused on, and allowed me to accept the reality. A truly freeing experience.

As I pressed the tags into the soil, my mind wondered to God. He too labels things, to make our lives simpler. He calls things by their true name, things like love, forgiveness, and even sin, regardless of our rationale, current political correctness or social trend. I find great freedom in that, for often, things are not what they seem, but a correct label helps us see them for what they truly are.