There is power in the names we’re given.
I’m told my parents originally planned to name me Cindy Joy. Then I showed up nearly a month late. They took one look at their overripe, bald baby girl, and thought, “Nope. Not a Cindy Joy. Let’s call her Gina Marie.” So here I am.
Names give definition, identity. They remind us who we are and whose we are. Yet there are moments in our stories, places author Dan Allender calls, “shalom shattered”- times when we lose our identities because of sin, lies, pain.
In those moments, we are renamed.
Sometimes, it’s other people who name us. Unwanted. Rejected. Outsider. Betrayed.
Sometimes, we name ourselves. Unknown. Powerless. Not enough. Lost.
We carry those names into every story in our lives.
They become the ways we define ourselves. When shalom shatters again, those names echo in our hearts, reinforcing the idea that those names really are us.
But the truth is, they aren’t. We have new names.
When we lived in Singapore, I was in a small group at church about listening prayer. One of the exercises we did in that group was to ask God how He sees us.
It was, to be honest, a weird exercise, but I am a good student who does her homework, so I asked Him, “How do you see me?”
The response I heard was, “Precious Lamb.”
Full disclosure? I was not thrilled initially, because what instantly came to mind was Precious Moments figurines, which are not my favorite thing that Christians have ever put out there. They rank up there with Testamints and Bibleman for me as far as the cheese factor goes. (the irony? I had one Precious Moments figurine growing up. It was a lamb. I can’t get away from this).
So given my reaction, I know this thought could not have originated from me. The more I sat with it, the more I realized this is how God sees me, and how I need to see myself.
To bring this truth home, soon after that time my brother sculpted this figure for me:
(The crazy part? I hadn’t shared this name with him. He just felt inspired to make it for me).
God knows our names.
In scripture, we see God literally shift the course of someone’s life by changing their names. Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Israel. Sarai to Sarah. Simon to Peter. Saul to Paul.
God calls us by name. He calls us Precious Lamb, Beloved Child, Chosen, Redeemed, Wanted, Known, Seen. He strips away those shattered places and heals them with the truth of who we really are.
For every broken place in our stories, where we claimed a label that says we are something less, God wants to rename us.
The names He gives us redeem, shift the course of our lives, alter how we see ourselves, and therefore how we relate to Him and others.
But to do that, we have to stake a claim to those new names again and again. Each day, we must choose to call ourselves by our new names, the names He gives us. We repeat them until they ring true.
When the old names echo and call us away from home, we tell ourselves who we really are. If others try to call us by those names, we shake our heads and turn back to our true selves. It is not easy, but it is possible.
Do you know your name? Of all the names we gather along the way, the only ones that matter are the ones He gives us. Call yourself by those names today.