When someone asks the question, “Who are you,” most people respond with a name. Some people might respond with their occupation or title, but for the most part, we consider our name to be our most important identifier. But what happens when your sense of identity is actually wrapped up in your name? Are you defined solely by the family you were born into or raised by? What happens if your name reminds you of someone you have great disdain for or of a childhood that was less than perfect? Should you change it? Should you leave it and spend your life resenting it? It can be a dilemma when you look at yourself as only a name.
Who you are is so much more than a name or a title. It is the choices you make and the things you do. God made you unique and gave you special gifts and abilities. Your name or title has nothing to do with it. We need to quit tying ourselves to a man-given name and feeling privileged or disadvantaged as a result. Yes, being born into certain families (celebrities, royalty, rich or popular) can provide more opportunities and advantages than most people get, but it CERTAINLY doesn’t guarantee you will have a happy life or be a decent human being. Being born into families where your name is associated with something negative or has already been dragged through the mud before you even existed can make it more challenging to overcome. It is a fact of life that our name matters…but to what degree? How much of it can we affect? Is our only choice to feel bad about ourselves or to change our name? Is our only option to get rid of it?
What we tell ourselves about where we come from is not nearly as important as what we tell ourselves about who we are. If we came from an abusive situation, we need to acknowledge our past but we do not have to be defined by it. If we came from a past of being bullied or made fun of, we don’t have to continue to feel less than acceptable. If we came from circumstances in which we did not have our needs met, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or even spiritually, we do not have to continue to settle for being empty. If we lived with a person or people who were an embarrassment (or worse) to us, or made us want to become someone else, we don’t have to continue to run away. There is another choice: Face it…then start changing your perspective. I know that is easier said than done, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Our names sometimes carry great weight and responsibility, and sometimes they can carry pain and embarrassment. If your name is such a burden that you cannot escape it, then it is not wrong to consider changing it. BUT if you change your name and nothing else, nothing else is going to change. You will gain nothing but new letters to sign on a check. Instead, consider the fact that you can take back your name from the person or persons who degraded it. You can redeem your name by living a life that is filled with love, kindness, compassion and generosity. You can live a life that does not judge others, but lifts them up. Live in the moment. Live to help, not hurt. Live to build up, not destroy. Quit blaming your past (or your name) for your “bad luck” and take back the power from the ones who took it from you and reclaim your God-given identity.
On the other hand, maybe you were fortunate enough to be given a name that is associated with success, intelligence, authority or sincere acts of compassion and generosity. Maybe you had parents who were well-respected, highly regarded by others or accomplished great things. It is easy to fall into a mindset that somehow your parents’ or family’s successes are also your own. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud of where you come from or the way you were raised, but you cannot live your life based on what others before you have done. You must make your own mark on the world. Quit assuming the successes of others as though they are your own and then putting yourself on a pedestal as a result. Count your blessings that you had a family who loved and cared for you. Be grateful for the opportunities afforded you because of the circumstances into which you were born, but above all, be who YOU are supposed to be. You have unique God-given abilities and desires that have nothing to do with your name! They have everything to do with the amazing journey in store for you if you will let go of your sense of entitlement and leap out by faith into the true calling for your life.
So what’s in a name? I guess the true answer to that is found within each and every one of us. Your name is what YOU make of it. It doesn’t matter what it contains; what matters is what you fill it with.