OK, let’s play a game. I’m going to start a poem, and you finish it for me:
Roses are red
violets are blue…
Did you know the rest? Many of us can’t even remember where we first learned that poem. Was it in kindergarten, during Valentine’s Day? Who knows? The point is that you didn’t even need to think about it. The rest of that little rhyme came automatically. You didn’t have to work hard to conjure it up. It was just there.
That’s what happens with our names, too. Have you ever been in a crowd when someone called your name, and you turned automatically? Instant head swivel in the direction of that voice. It may have been a complete stranger calling out to someone else, but in that moment, you reacted automatically, without even thinking.
The funny thing is that we do that with other names as well, names that we don’t readily share with the world. Names we have been calling ourselves for years. Names like Broken, Guilty, Stupid, Crappy, Lazy, Ignorant, Slut, Dirty, Unworthy, Shy, Incompetent, Uncreative, Disappointment, Liar, Adulterer, Addict, Victim, and the list goes on. It’s not that we consciously label ourselves with these names. They tend to begin when a wound is inflicted, when we are either the perpetrator or the victim of some type of hurt. Often, this occurs in childhood. Then every time we are wounded again, or we wound someone else, we repeat that name to ourselves. It sticks and stays. We may not be completely aware of the name’s existence, but that doesn’t keep us from living up (or down) to that name. What we are unaware of can still drive us.
We’re busy people living hectic lives. Many of us don’t take the time to stop and examine ourselves very often. We don’t ask the hard questions. What name do I call myself? Where did it come from? When have I unconsciously repeated it to myself? What has this name kept me from? What has it stolen from me?
How can I claim that we don’t often stop to examine? Well, for starters, look back at that poem above.
Roses are red
violets are blue…
Are they really? Are all roses really red? Not so much. And how many violets are really blue? Aren’t they mostly, well, violet colored? But since the poem is so familiar, and we learned it so long ago, we still automatically repeat it as if it were true.
The first step to overcome the name we’ve adopted is to ask God to help us ferret it out. King David wrote a poem, too. It’s one that can be trusted, one that can be an example for us to follow:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.hYou hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Teen gKKERY SFor you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
— Psalm 139