What's Your Name?

Today is my birthday. Yes, it's true. I'm turning 39 ... again. Birthdays have a way of making me re-evaluate my life, my purpose, the meaning of it all. I'm reminded of an article by Pastor Mark Labberton about the power of naming (click here for the article). We all have lots of different names.
  • There are the obvious names and nicknames (mine have been names like Sugar Pop, Darlin', Kimmy, Babe, Berly, Ace, and Mom). Some of these names are for public consumption. Most are more privately used.
  • Then there are the names that sound like something else but are really names too, the names that let people put you into a category they think they understand. (For me they've been things like daughter, friend, student, athlete, sister, wife, mother, teacher, Ph.D., statistician, church communicator.) The thing about these names is that any one of them standing alone leaves out big chunks of who you really are. But they are the Cliff's notes of your life -- and sometimes the only notes people read.
You get the idea. You have lots of names too, don't you?


 And these are just the surface names. There are so many more names that go closer to the heart. Names like "Good Job!" or "Never Measures Up." Labberton writes, "Every day our naming of the people around us gives life and takes it away." What could be more true? It feels so good when people name us from the inside out, somehow recognizing and lifting up a piece of who we really are. And it hurts so much when people wrongly name us...and when we wrongly name ourselves.

So on this birthday that's not my 39th, I'm thinking about the names in my life. Some have been nearly erased, and some have not been written yet. But the thing I often forget is this. When you delve down to the core of my life, there's only one name for me that really matters....it's the one name I've been straining to hear all my life... even though it's always been my name. It's the name God has for me....and I wonder what it sounds like in God's mouth? But God knows it, and it's a version of "my beloved child" that is entirely unique to me.

As I wrestle with all the different ways people name me, with all the ways I name myself...it helps to remember my real name. A name that was written long ago. One that can never be erased. Beloved Child Of God. And that's the only name I need.

You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. (Psalm 139: 15-16)

Kim Turnage

 Kim writes devotions on her own blog. You can check out that resource here.