Thursday, June 26, 2008

What IS your name? What's in a name #1

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1

What are the names that God has called me? What are the names that God has called you?

So many times, we answer the question of “What’s your name?” by our name given to us by our parents. “My name is Heather,” “My name is _______.”

Internally, our answer can be much different. If we really listen to the voice in our head that comes out late at night, we hear other names that we have heard time and time again.

Those names have been given to us by parents, teachers, friends, classmates, and co-workers, among others.

Those names have been given to us by the circumstances we have found ourselves in, whether through neglect, abuse, lack of love or attention, times where people have sinned against us, or we have done things through our own free choices.

Those situations create and emphasize any thoughts about ourselves that have been negative in any way. What we perceive as our own voice in our head, continually takes anything we go, and accuses us of being those names that we have been given in the past.

So, what’s in a name?

Do you hear names of loved, secure, faithful, blessed, redeemed, chosen, wanted, valuable, precious, beloved, healed, whole, forgiven, released, free, significant, talented?

Or do you hear the names of worthless, unforgivable, careless, irresponsible, stupid, dork, nerd, freak of nature, clumsy, inept, never going to amount to anything, sick, twisted, damaged goods?

I can tell you I have heard my share of all the negative names. Most of the ones I listed above. They have come from sexual and emotional abuse, from attitudes of family members, peers in school, teachers, even co-workers and my friends. Some of it was unintentional for sure. Other names were given with every intention of hurting me and pushing me down, squashing me.

In recent years, as I have started growing and learning about a deeper heart journey that God is calling me to, Jesus has shown me the lies I have believed about myself. Lies planted there through specific incidents in my life, lies embedded by well meaning family, friends and teachers. Each time I encountered an experience where I was uncertain, where I felt a little bit insecure, every mistake I made was pounced on by the one who wants to keep me from being whole and complete in Christ. If the enemy of our souls can keep us from being who God created us to be, he can win a battle in the war against God that is raging in the heavenlies.

For that is what is going on all around us. A battle first, to keep us from coming to know Christ in an intimate and personal way, and then if we do end up becoming God’s, to keep us ineffective, bullied and pressed to the ground by all the weight of our baggage from our lives. We can’t see this battle with our physical eyes, but we sure can feel it in our hearts and minds.

How many times have you woken in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep. You feel like you have had a bad dream, but it continues once you are sure you are wide awake. In your head you hear the whispers accusing you for the mistakes you made that day. Yelling at the kids, losing patience with your family, giving a cold shoulder to your spouse.

“Why, this makes you a horrible person! Why can’t you pull yourself together and be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect friend? Look at all the people you have promised to pray for. You haven’t prayed for one of them have you? Look how you promised to spend time with God every morning, and yet you are neglecting him, and getting distracted by all the things going on around you. You wake up and have to start running with the kids right away. You should have gone to bed earlier so that you could get up before your family, and spend time with God, but you didn’t. You didn’t even bother to look at your bible today…”

And on and on the list of accusations go.

Sometimes the accusations escalate if you can’t get back to sleep. They go from whispering in your ear, to yelling in your head. Bringing up scenes from your past, you find yourself lamenting your choices, grieving yet again over the things you couldn’t prevent from happening. You wonder if you could have done something different. You wonder if you really did deserve all the things that were pushed on you, when you were too young to do anything about them.

Then you finally manage to fall back asleep, by whatever means you can. You take some medication, make yourself a drink, read till you collapse, stare at the TV till your eyes are blurry, or escape into a fantasy life where things are perfect and you can pretend at least for a while that you are loved and significant to at least one person in your life.

I know that I have done all of these things. I know that in the middle of the night, even now as I write this, I wonder if I really am doing the right thing. Am I really supposed to be writing at all? Who would want to listen to my story, hear what I might have to say? So many others have written about similar things, what new ideas could I possible add to the mix?

But I look at a list of names that God has called me. I found it on the Internet on a blog site (HERE) I frequent. I printed it out and posted it above my desk. And there, staring me in the face was the verse from Isaiah, chapter 43.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”
I think this has become a life verse for me. It is something that I desperately need to remember. No matter what the circumstances that come my way, no matter the barbs people throw at me, no matter how discouraged or low I feel… I am His! He is mine! He knows my name, he has called me by my name, and he has redeemed my life from the pit.


I think that this may end up becoming a bit of a series, much like my friend Amy has a series called Hope Chronicles on her blog.

I have started to realize how important names are. How many names do I call myself during the day. Just by marriage and occupation alone I am called wife and mother, also, sister, daughter, grand-daughter, friend, etc. But as I said above, there is so much more going on. I only hope that as I explore some of the things that God has been teaching me, He will use my words to help show you the names He has called you, to replace the ones given to you by others.

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