One Friday afternoon I stepped into a roomful of women who were new to me! They had asked me to be their speaker for the weekend and I sincerely wanted to learn their names so we could feel more relaxed together. I consciously made an effort to remember them. It went something like this: “Hi, Rhonda, (I had a friend in high school named Rhonda.) nice to meet you."
"Jane, hello! (My middle name is Jane.) Happy to meet you."
"Rachel, greetings! (Our daughter-in-law’s name is Rachel.) How are you?"
And on it went. I felt like I got to know them sooner because I could connect with them using their names, a very important part of them.
In our society we place importance on names but not necessarily the meaning of those names. When I met Donna, (I know a Donna who goes to my church.) I knew nothing about what her name meant so it did not add more information to what I was already collecting from her.
Like Jacob. When he met God in the wilderness, God asked him, ”What is your name?"
When he answered, Jacob was really saying that his name was trickster, heel grabber. That meaning added more to his listener’s understanding of his character.
God responded with, "OK, but no longer. You are not going to be tagged with such an awful name for the rest of history. I rename you, Israel, which means, one who clings firmly to God, or who strives with God." (paraphrase)(Genesis 32:22-32)
Or like Ruth’s mother-in-law. She said, “Don’t call me Naomi. (which means pleasantness) Call me Mara, because the Almighty as made my life very bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)
If someone was to ask you "What name do you call yourself?" What might you say?
I recently read through a list from women who answered that question. I imagine they wrote the label they most often find lingering, hanging out in their heads at the end of a long day.
prideful, lazy, undisciplined
broken, weak, doubting, bitter, not enough
despair, hopeless, lost
unsuccessful in relationships
Maybe you resonate with one or more of these. I know I do. They seem so familiar.
Ten years ago I would have answered that question with: My name is Little Miss Am-I-OK?
My unsureness, shyness and need for affirmation kept me captive to always performing and looking for approval. Little Miss Am-I-OK? is a tough taskmaster because she requires that someone validate her. I will not forget the day I realized that the one she was really needing a firm answer from was me, myself. Such a wonder. God already gave me his approval at my conception and on the cross. I only needed mine. She needed a new name from me and the One who created and loved her.
And Little Miss Am-I-OK? got her name changed to beloved daughter. She now knows who she is.
How can we go about finding a name that is true to who we really are rather than the one the deceiver whispers in our ear?
Here are a few ideas:
- Be patient! Name changes often happen slowly because they grow out of a healed heart, and that.takes.time.
- Pray. Ask God to give you your true name. Sit silently and wait for it. He has one just for you.
- When thinking through the names you call yourself, recall what has happened in your life to make you come to this conclusion. Perhaps you could write out these thoughts to discover what feels true to you about these names and search the Bible to see what God has to say.
- Then go after it. Go about letting God direct you to discover a new name. I did some powerful classes at House of Hope that helped me in this search. (The Ultimate Journey and Changes that Heal) I entered into some counseling to untangle the mysteries of why I felt the way I did about myself. I read tons of books and took a few personality/strength finder tests. I wrote endlessly to learn & listen to myself and talked to those close to me. I took some risks and tried out new names. I have come alongside many women who have done the same thing. They search, do the work, and find something new and fresh with freedom from the old heavy classification that kept them stuck.
Of course, God and his love for us as individuals is a huge part of this search. Jeremiah 31:3 tells us, The LORD appeared to us in the past saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Ephesians 3:17 - 18, "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ..."
I can give up the mean-girl-name-calling in face of such deep and knowing love.
What name do you find batting around in your head? What name would you prefer? Do you have some ideas that will help you believe it is truly who you are?
Let me know and I will pray for you and ask God to lead you to His favorite name picked out just for you.