I grew up never liking my name. It wasn’t that my name was anything unusual or difficult to pronounce. I was just never fond of it. I remember sitting in school as my teachers would “call roll” imagining that my name would have been one of my fellow classmates. When you have a three syllable first name, a three syllable middle name, and then a one syllable last name, it seemed desperately lacking the “roll-off-the-tongue” so many of my friends had with their names. For the first 34 years of my life, my family and friends would address me by a nickname that was a shortened version of my God-given name. Although it did help shorten the length of my name, I still wished my name would have been something different all together.
For as long as I can remember, I felt tied to that nickname, almost as if it had given me some sort of ownership or sense of control. All the while I had a deep desire for transformation — for something different, for a part of me I wished I could change, but just couldn’t, wouldn’t, and didn’t even know how or where to start.
My Savior has a way of getting my attention, in a way that only He can do: the disruption of my perfect little world. You see, for years I took pride in being overly organized and always having my ducks in a row. Partaking in change and not being able to maintain complete order and control would not be an easy pill for me to swallow. So when a series of life events took all my order away in one fell swoop, well, needless to say, He had my attention.
Over the course of hitting rock bottom, living out dark nights and feeling that everything I had ever known was a lie, I had come to accept the fact that change was imminent. Of course I accepted this change begrudgingly, and it wasn’t without its faults, setbacks and failures.
It took a few seasons to realize that my greatest fear with change and my own transformation was that I wouldn’t know who I am.
Growing up my parents always told me that God loved me and that I was His creation, but if I didn’t do what God commanded, what my Christian school said to do, what the Bible said, what my church preached, then I would be doomed for all eternity. Although I have never for one second doubted my Savior’s love for me, I have doubted my own self worth.
Growing up in a family where God was at the center of everything, it left little for the imagination or for questioning. As I moved into adolescence I was told things about myself, i.e., I was an excellent student, a kind friend, a cheery disposition. However I also had an abuser who told me that I was his, that I was nothing without him, and that I had no way out. This left me feeling that I had no voice, nowhere to turn, and a broken identity.
How could I possibly know who I was if the world around me told me a million different things about myself, most of which were untrue. I’m a lover of books and words and, E.E. Cummings wrote, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
To let the healing begin, I would have to allow change and become fully open to being broken. I have to be vulnerable enough to find out exactly who I am. My lifetime of shame told me I was scarred and incapable of love, but Grace told me that I was redeemed, that I can have hope even if it’s just a tiny glimmer. It’s that small crack where the light creeps in, it’s in asking the hard questions, it’s in the mystery, it’s the ability to be open to change, to let transformation happen, to one day find out who I actually am.
Everyone in my broken, but lovely world calls me by my full name now. I have embraced the lengthiness of it with kindness. I’ve actually even added a few more syllables with my married last name. The Divine has ways of showing me time and time again that He sees me, He knows who I am, He knows every intricate detail about me, He’s always been faithful. Even in a time when my very world was brutally shattered, a complete mess, ugly and untied, I found out that my God-given birth name means “beautifully tied.”
My name is Rebecca…Northern California is where I call home. My one true love calls me his “Wife”, three precious ones call me “Mommy”, only a select few call me a “Writer”, I call myself a “Beautiful Mess”….the one who calms the wind and the waves knows my rightful name and HE calls me “precious, beloved, priceless….HIS child”.