Labeling – What’s In A Name (10/14/13)

Read: Jeremiah 23:21-25:38, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17, Psalm 84:1-12, Proverbs 25:15

I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages. (Jeremiah 23:40)

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Relate: I wonder how many parents in Germany named their son “Adolf” in the generation after World War 2. I wonder if there is any way to find those statistics out. What about Iosif (as in Joe Stalin) for those living in USSR the generation after his death? That might not work, though, he was much more of a villain in America than in Russia. Perhaps it would be better to ask if any Russian-Americans, or any expats or defectors named their kids Iosif (or Joseph). What’s in a name? What kind of stigma follows around an infamous name.

The name I was born with has nothing to do with infamy, but don’t ever call me “Brian”. Seriously. I hate it. If ever I answer my phone and someone asks, “Hello, is Brian there?” I hang up. Immediately. Every now or then I’ll be at a bank or somewhere where they say it. I can feel my back tighten and I’ll be grinding my teeth. I swear there’s an instant headache. I hate the name with an unreasonable passion. Some people I love deeply still use it out of habit. I try to smile and blow it off, but it bothers me. Every time.

I wonder, as the years marched by if Jacob felt the same way about his name. In Hebrew his name Ya’ aqob is identical to Ya’ qub which means “deceiver”. (Keep in mind, in early Hebrew there were no vowels.) Imagine growing up with the name “trickster” or “liar”. How annoying would such a name be as time went by?

React: Most of my life I have gone by the name “BJ”. Ever since my first email account with juno way back in the mid 90’s I’ve used the handle, “Beejai”. For anything legal today I will use BJ. For anything personal, Beejai. That is my name. One day I’ll get around to legally changing it but in my mind, in my heart, and with my friends, it has already happened.

“Brian” means “strong”. I’m not. As part of who I am, I have embraced weakness. I recognize that without God’s help and without the fellowship of believers, I am nothing. On my own I am destined to fail every time. It is through my weakness that God is revealed strong.

On the other hand, “Beejai” means “win”. It means victory. It is through rejecting my “Brian” that God has given me “Beejai”. I have the victory because He, not me, is strong. I have embraced a victory that is not my own. This can only happen because I have rejected a label I was born with. So what about you? What labels, what names, what descriptors have been following you around? What are those things that you have believed, or that you have allowed others to believe that have kept you from becoming all that God wants you to be? He is the only one with the right to label you. And He calls you victorious.

Respond: 

God, I am so grateful that You make all things new. I am grateful that You have made me new. Help me to live in the newness that You have purchased for me. Let those labels that I was born with and the ones that I have collected fall away. Help me to shed them like dirty laundry at the end of a long day. Let words like failure, or ugly, or dumb, or mistake mean nothing when people try to apply them to me.  Let me be clothed only in Your righteousness. Let me only respond to what You call me.

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18 thoughts on “Labeling – What’s In A Name (10/14/13)

  1. “He is the only one with the right to label you. And He calls you victorious.”
    Great post. We love labelling each other, don’t we? And we love labelling ourselves. But regardless of how we or anyone else see us – none of us will ever be “nothing”, because God calls us by name. He gives us and our lives eternal value.

  2. An interesting and provocative post. It made me think of the various surnames that have belonged to me as a daughter, an adopted daughter, a wife, and a wife. So much history is attached to those labels I have worn; some good some bad. Through all the name changes God and His names for me remained constant. I am a “daughter of the King” and a “child of God” I praise Him for His faithfulness!

  3. When we become a child of his we receive his riches., we are washed white as snow. It doesn’t get any better than that. I am who He says I am.
    Thanks for your precious words and reminder today. Nothing happens by chance.
    Blessings!

  4. It is interesting how we have moved from names that carry meaning or family tradition to names that are a mere novelty or unique. At some point meaning and family tradition became less important than being a one of a kind novelty. I sure that says something, but at the moment the deeper answer escapes me.

  5. If you knew the song “A boy named Sue” you would know how pleasant is your name, and you could aim your words into a stellar theme as if there were many stars to ponder as lights for the writing of you. So many Hollywood stars choose new names — anyone can. The secret is to be new with the new name, The registration is a mere formality and requires posting in a newspaper the announcement of the new name for the public and creditors. You can change your name easily, but changing your heart is much harder. But of course you can do both.

  6. Names are what we call strangers.
    If we were friend a glance would do,
    or maybe a nod, a dance, and who
    would know what was said? The view
    from the forehead of a friend is more
    than reflections where a stone is cast
    skipping on still waters or an echo heard
    in rock wall canyons when you are alone.

  7. Wow, what you’ve written about your name really resonates with me! I, too, have hated being a “Debbie” for most of my life. It just doesn’t fit. I’ve tried spelling it differently, using my middle name, etc., to no avail. Fortunately, I’m a writer, so I’m adopting a pen name. Something of my choosing! Best of luck to you; now I’m off to read some of your posts here.

  8. I am so glad they sent me your profile. I loved reading it. I found myself smiling or laughing the whole way through it. Thank you for including the link to your blog. This is the first post I’ve read and it has already spoken to me as well as helped me to learn a lil more about you, which I find very uniquely kool. I will definitely be reading more from you. I like your style! 🙂

  9. A very moving testimony Beejai. You are so right with your comments about needing God and the fellowship of believers. I must, respectfully, disagree with you concerning your given name. You are strong, you have taken on this task of daily postings that lead and guide many lost and searching. You have made me stronger in my faith, and for that I thank you for being strong enough to be obedient to God’s direction. Because of your strength, you are also a winner. So you see you are both “Brian” and “Beejai.” May the Lord bless you in all your endeavors, strengthening you every day.

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