A few months ago there was a Facebook questionnaire being circulated that caught my attention. You’ve seen these questionnaires that ask you certain questions designed to: give others a glimpse into a bit of your life; or “tell you” something about yourself.
This particular one got my attention because of one question:
Four names I go by?
When we are born, someone, usually our parents, gives us a name. Maybe it’s a family name or maybe it’s a name with special meaning. When my husband and I were naming our children, we carefully researched the origins and meanings of each name. We put great significance in our children’s names.
The Bible tells the story of a name in 1 Samuel 4. Here’s a brief synopsis:
The Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. But, since the battle wasn’t going very well for Israel, the leaders decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant, from its home in Shiloh, to the battle hoping it would turn the tide in their favor. Think “good luck charm.” Without asking the LORD. With the help of two not so godly priests, Hophni and Phinehas.
Well, Israel soundly lost the battle, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, and Hophni and Phinehas were killed.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er Shiloh, Eli, the elderly High Priest and dad, is anxiously waiting to hear news of the battle. But more than anything he’s worried about the Ark. Upon hearing the news that the Ark is captured, he falls off his chair and dies. But that’s not all, Phinehas’ wife, who’s very pregnant, hears the battle news, goes into labor, delivers her son, and with her dying breath names him, Ichabod. She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured.” Ichabod means “no glory.” I imagine, for the rest of his life, this guy was a constant reminder of Israel’s defeat. Because of his name.
Names are important.
Back to the Facebook question. How many names do you have?
- I have my given name, Kirsten, which means “follower of God.” My parents’ name for me that carries a special meaning.
- There are names given to me by others: wife, mom, sister, daughter, grandma, friend, aunt, writer, assistant, etc. Most of these names are innocuous. They are more like titles really. They indicate more of my position in someone’s life than my person. While I wear many of these names with pride and confidence, they define what I do but not who I am.
But some of the names given to me by others are painful. See if you can identify with any of these:
selfish, loud, boisterous, unfriendly, shy, pretty, plain Jane, wallflower,
nosey, talented, unworthy, unpopular, life of the party.
These are the names over which you have no control. But these are also the names which bring barbs and stings that want to cling to your being.
- There are names you give yourself. And these are perhaps the most destructive names of all. Listen to how you talk to yourself to discover these names. Ever hear things like this come out of your mouth?
- You’re such an idiot
- You’re so stupid
- Way to embarrass yourself
- If they really knew me they’d hate me
- Open mouth insert foot once again
I’m sure you can think of a few more to add to this list. I know I can. Every time you and I say things like this about ourselves we are giving ourselves a negative name. And every time we hear that name, we inflict a wound because we speak a lie over our personhood.
- God gives you a name that focuses on who you are. Here are just a few:
Do you notice a difference between the names we give ourselves and the names God gives us?
God gives us life-giving names. He changes our name to identify us with Jesus Christ, who paid for our sins.
We tend to give ourselves names that demean and degrade. And that is exactly what the delights the enemy of our soul. He desires that we forget who we are in Christ. He prefers to keep us beaten down because then we are less likely to do that for which we are created—to bring God glory.
The names God gives us define who we are. Names are important to God, therefore they are important to us.
Let me change that Facebook question: Which name(s) do you accept?
Listen to your words today. What names are you calling yourself? Are they life-giving? Or do these names sting and anchor a barb into your heart and soul?
To delve deeper into the concept of names and how they define who you are, I recommend Your Secret Name: Discovering Who God Created You to Be.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment below or send me an email.
Your name is beautiful!
Capture the extra-ordinary in the ordinary today,
Kirsten D. Samuel
Aftershock Recovery Coach
8-week Program, Custom-paced Coaching, Remote, or In-person Sessions