Thursday, March 30, 2006

What's in a Name?

When we're born, our earthly parents give us a name. For some of us, that name is an act of rememberance or honor for a family member or close family friend, either living or dead. For others, our parents searched the Bible, or popular books of Baby Names. Some of us were named after celebrities that were popular at the time of our birth. Regardless of how our parents chose our names, the point is that it was our parents, not us, who chose our name.

For those of us who got married and chose to do so, there is also the very popular option of assuming our husband's surname. While many consider this romantic and rather practical, I suspect it's early roots stem from a chauvinistic sense of property ownership. I won't belabor that feminist point here, other than to note that while those of us who got married and chose to change our last names still ended up with a name chosen by someone else.

So what's in a name? Webster's Online Dictionary defines a "name" as a word or words by which an entity is designated and distinguished from others. Interesting, but rather arbitrary and not particularly meaningful. I prefer the definition found in the Life Application Study Bible (NLT) which defines a name as one's identity or reputation.

In Genesis 32:27-28 the Bible tells us that after wrestling all night with a man, that man asked Jacob "What is your name?" Naturally, Jacob replied "Jacob." The man then said "Your Name will no longer be Jacob. It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won." (NLT).

God gave many people in the Bible new names (Abraham, Sarah and Peter are just a few). Their new names were important symbols of how God had changed their lives. Those who believe that God stopped talking and stopped blessing when the Bible was finished are sadly mistaken. He talks to us and blesses us continously, if only we'll listen, observe, acknowledge and obey.

Within this context, I am honored to announce that as of yesterday, my name has officially (legally) changed to Sydney Tyler Thomas. God placed the desire and the conviction on my heart to change my name for quite some time ago. Over a period of months, He revealed to me why the name change was important and what it symbolized. I am a new creature in Him and it was time to let go of the emotional and spiritual baggage I'd been carrying around for the past 47 years.

My flesh resisted the change for a while, not because I didn't love the name that God gave me - I do. But I was used to living that other life for so long that the thought of such a major change was frightening and overwhelming. Worse still, I was concerned about what my family and friends would think of me for doing something so drastic. But then God started working on me and I realized that through Him all things are possible, that many seeds had been planted but had not been growing on the rocky soil of my past, and that many of the people whose reactions I feared were part of the problem in the first place! My trust is in God and I've learned to look to Him, not to others, for acceptance, guidance, wisdom and unconditional love.

There is a lot of work that God is calling me to do as Sydney. Interestingly, many of them are things that I couldn't imagine doing before - starting a knitting ministry, ridding my life of toxic relationships, writing about some very difficult issues (more on this later), letting go of things, habits and yes, even people that no longer fit the new person I'm becoming. I know longer feel frightened or overwhelmed. I'm excited!

What's in your name? What's in your life? Is it a life that you've chosen or a life that's been chosen for you by others - your parents, other family members, friends? Who are you living for? Changing a name is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. It requires much prayerful consideration and leading from the Holy Spirit. In a case such as this, a name change is symbolic for much bigger life changes. It isn't an easy process, but is is surely a liberating one?

If you've already changed your name, or are praying about it, please let me know. As if giving me a great name wasn't enough, God also showed me some amazing legal shortcuts that saved me TONS of money! They may or may not work in your situation, but I'd be happy to share them.

I hope you'll share this journey with me by participating in this ministry. I know that God is going to bless Soulful Knitting Ministries in mighty ways. He already has.


Shelley said...

A book that my mom had that she and my dad used to decide on my name states that it means "musical". I have often joked that I am so not musical that like the men and women in the Bible I should change my name. I am not called to do this (change my name). In fact, I think God is working on me developing the identity that He has for me, for who I am.

I applaud you for listening and obeying Him to change your name. No doubt it must have been hard to do, and I would imagine it would take some time getting used to as well. However, because you were obedient, I think the Lord will bless you :o)

Bea said...

Hi! I'm not quite sure how I found you? (I started out on the Southern Knitters webring?) But, I'm glad I did! I had never considered changing my name really. I have in the past used differing combinations of the names I have. Betty - a nick name for Elizabeth means consecrated to God. I will keep that :o)

but. A year ago when reading the Bible through, the name Nekoda nearly jumped off of the page! And just TODAY I'm reading it again! It's in the 2nd chapter of Ezra. And Nekoda was a family that returned to help rebuild the temple after the Exile. Well, JUST TODAY - I searched for the the name. Nekoda - it's Hebrew. And it means to shine, to teach, to touch and create!

I will pray about taking this name as my own. Something I would not have considered except by 'divine coincidence' I happened by your site today.

Amen and Blessings!