I remember my first day of class at Dallas Baptist University, listening to my professor do his best to pronounce a student’s name, only to hear a voice respond, “Just call me Harry.” The professor continued through a few more names until he paused to struggle through another pronunciation, followed by the response, “You can call me Betty.” I was taken back more by the names the people chose to be called than anything else that happened in the first 10 minutes of class. Yes, I am easily entertained, and yes, I do have ADHD. I was captivated by their choice in names. I couldn’t help but wonder, why Harry? Why Betty?
Fast-forward to the day I received my first class rosters as a teacher. I made a point only to say the last name of a student when calling roll if I thought I would in any way butcher his or her first name. Instead, I would simply ask, “How do you say your first name?” I wanted each student to feel valued and important. I didn’t want to give the opportunity for anyone to laugh or giggle during roll call. Even if the laughter might have been at me, kids don’t necessarily see it that way. I thought that empowering them to say their names allowed me the best opportunity not only to learn how to say their names, but to get my first glimpse into each of them as a person.
Our names distinguish us. They are how we are known. Our parents likely took great pride in our names, and there’s often a story behind how a name was chosen. That being said, we have all heard some names that made our heads tilt. You know what I am talking about. Those names that just make you pause. For those of you that really know me, you know that I keep a list of names that fit into this category. To make my list, the name has to be totally unique or totally unbelievable, but the person with the name has to exist. What I find to always be true is that people have the ability to be defined by their names or the ability to define their names. In Genesis 35, I believe Jacob knew this with his whole heart. He saw the potential burden of the name Leah chose for their child, so he instead chose a name that would be defined by the life his son would live.
How incredible is it that God has chosen a new name for us! An identity that can never by taken away! Truth to walk in every day! We are sons and daughters of the Most High. We are redeemed. We are no longer defined by our choices or circumstances, but by who we are in Christ. He makes all things new, including us! He loves us without limit or condition. We are empowered to be who God calls us to be. We are never alone. He is always with us. He meets us right where we are, where our need begins. He goes before us. He fights our battles. He rewrites our story.
There are days that won’t be good, but God steps in every time to reveal that he is always faithful. There will be times that I just can’t get through what lies ahead, but God will always be there to carry me, shoulder my burdens and see me through.
God works for our good. He will always make a way. Just lean in and allow him to be God. Watch him work, and never count him out because he will always have the victory!