I absolutely love naming things. The elephant on my work computer desktop is named Aesop. My guitar is named Ember. The beta fish I haven’t bought yet is already named Joppa, and what led me to conjuring up kid friendly short stories was an attempt to write the extensive list of baby names out of my system.
I realized today on a seismic sort of level [and what I have taken the artistic liberty to mean by that in my head is like, miners driving four hours deep into the belly of the earth] is that part of what has made me so crazy sometimes in this season of singleness is my desperate desire to be renamed. Since like, always. Starting in elementary school, I have obssessed and researched and sounded out and considered the implications of the names of the boys I’ve had crushes on. It’s honestly even disqualified some guys from having my intentional secret attention. The first boy I ever liked was in my small town kindergarten class and I don’t even remember what I thought I meant by ‘liking him’ because all that was heavily discouraged from day one. But twenty years later, I still rememeber his name: Dakota Ray. Bless.
Some of my closest friends’ names over the years have been Whitehurst, Hall, Watson, Cables, McCormick, Witman, Mack, Mason, Harrison, and Turner. In all honesty, so many of our memories have faded, but their names always felt so significant to me. So aside from a genuine desire to experience and fulfill my expression of femininity in the context of marriage and motherhood, I have been thoroughly preoccupied with replacing my surname…to Ray or Smith or White or Baxter (lolz…if only you knew…) or Christian or McSomething’Or’Another or Davidson. Naturally, the bulk of that list is drenched in hilarity and relief. My older brother and I have a running joke of ‘dodged that one’ that runs far deeper in my negligible relational history than he even realizes.
But the point of all this is that God didn’t screw up my identity. It wasn’t just my parents and their histories that named me, it was God. Although you won’t necessarily see it translated this way on the interwebs, my mom always told me that my name meant “a girl chosen by God.” My middle name ~ which also happens to be my mom’s first name ~ indicates some variation of “bright” or “[bearer of] shining light.” And my surname is one of those evident ones that I just realized today is promulgated to mean “one who tells or relates.”
This morning as I followed the sun to a bench outside a dorm I don’t live in on the campus of a college I don’t go to, I couldn’t help but be floored at how I have missed it all these years. All these years of tirelessly trying to rename myself, tirelessly trying to establish my own identity, and through a pastor in New Haven, Connecticut God spoke to me that He didn’t make a mistake. He didn’t ‘eff up’ my name the first time around. It was His sovereignty, His providence that garnered me this cadence of letters strung together in the English language; and in Jesus, He has already given me a new Name and a new Identity.
I don’t have to wait for some guy to come along to rescue and name me; give me a new identity and in that way tell me who I am and what I should be doing with my life. God has already decided and He’s already gotten started and He always finishes what He begins.
May I always give my life to the telling of His Story.
Rebekkah Lenora Speller