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What’s in a name?

Personal, Words

May 31, 2011

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

As much as I appreciate the star crossed lover’s intention and can see her point, I think Juliet was slightly delusional (aside from the whole suicide incident). I think there is a lot in a name, and being here in Glorieta has only confirmed that notion. We were introduced to the Rec boss, intern, and return staffers by the names Grizzly, Moose, Elvis, and Rudy. I didn’t even know their real names for the longest time. The more I spent time with them throughout training week, the more I could see their personalities reflecting their “camp names”. The rest of us newbies were due to receive our own camp name after training week. We all discussed, wondered, and joked about what each of our names might be, but were assured by Grizzly and Moose that we would not be able to guess them. So after a long week of learning to climb, rescue, tie ropes, use equipment, fix paintball and laser guns, canoe, rescue, and facilitate groups, we finally took our written and rope test Friday night at our boss, Grizzly’s house. We were then blindfolded and packed into the truck bed of our Rec truck, the Tic-Tac, and driven around in the dark for about 15 minutes before setting off on foot on a blindfolded group hike up a mountain trail. This was our final teambuilding activity and after a long hike to the unknown we came to a stop. One by one, we received our names with explanations and our blindfolds were removed. From this point on, we were to introduce ourselves as and answer only to our “God-given” camp names. We were told that lots of thought was given to it and that we were to embrace and live out our names this summer and forever. 

They call me Danger. I don’t think much explanation is needed there. We also have Gunslinger, Tater, Solo, Poppins, Shadow, Falcon, Smokey, and Ripcord. They all seem silly, but they each represent our characters and our contributions to the team so well. Having received our names and our sight, we stepped up to see where we had been led. We were standing on the edge of Lookout- Glorieta was lit up far below us and the stars were shining down on us from above. It was quite the beautiful spot and the perfect place to begin our journey as a Rec Team. 

It’s near impossible to explain the seriousness of the camp name until you receive one yourself, but I think any name runs deep. Names place beliefs, expectations, affection, and possibly prejudices upon the recipient. We each embody names, whether we realize it or not. 

I’ve always been a huge fan of nicknames. I’ve never had one set nickname, like some of my friends have had, though I always wanted one growing up. But now I can appreciate different nicknames from different people. For instance, when I hear my brother say “Boo”, I can expect to turn and see him waiting for a hug. When I hear “boo” in any other circumstance I can either expect to see a white sheeted ghost or a a loud girl from highschool. “Jennaby” flashes visions of my best friend, Nadia and “Jennabeth” is reserved for Morgan. A “goodnight, Jenny” text tucks me in each night with a smile. I’ve never had one nickname, but each nickname warms a different area of my heart from different special people. 

I’ve always been told the importance of calling people by their name. I’ve heard it said that one’s own name is the sweetest sound to their ears, and I don’t doubt it. We all have a desire to be known and loved and when we hear our name we feel personally acknowledged and loved. As we grow up, I believe many names are bestowed upon us, labels besides nicknames or first names, which define who we are. Though we don’t always notice, these labels have the ability to latch onto our souls and tell us who to be. The child who is raised with words of affirmation, and is told she is beautiful and valuable and smart is more likely to treat herself as such and expect to be valued. The child who is raised with constant criticism and is told that he is dumb or worthless or lazy is likely to behave in that way. When we are given a title, we tend to fulfill that title, whether it’s true or not. Many of the names that we are given lead to destruction and lies that we fall into and believe about ourselves. When I was younger (but not much younger) I lived to fulfill my role as the invincible one. Because my friends called me invincible, I took every opportunity I could get to be just that. I worked to never let my feelings show and I tried to be tough. I eventually began to truly believe I was invincible and made decisions based on that notion. Other times I have been called the failure, or the trouble maker, and in turn I have embraced and embodied those names. We have all done this. We have all believed that we are something  that we are not called to be and found ourselves fulfilling roles we weren’t called to live. 

A rose called by any other name does not, in fact, smell as sweet. 

The good news is that we do not have to be defined by our names, good or bad, anymore. The only name that matters to us is the name that is given to us by our Creator. And he has called us beautiful. He has called us His children. We are not children of darkness or of struggling parents. We are certainly not orphans, for “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Parents have a lot of influence on the their children. I’m not convinced that they are totally responsible for their every behavior or personality trait, but I do think upbringing determines much of a child’s behavior and actions. If we are sons and daughters of God, we can not live as children of darkness. Our Father loves, cares for, protects, disciplines, and guides us as His own children. And I promise you He doesn’t make any of the mistakes that our parents may make.

Not only are we sons and daughters of Christ, but we are also heirs. “and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17) Idol and passive Christianity does not bring us to share in the glory that we are to share in Christ. As children and heirs, we share in the suffering as well. That sounds scary and unwelcome, but with God as our Father, what do we possibly have to fear? 

We are well equipped to handle the suffering in which we will share, “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). Whatever we have believed about ourselves before, that we are flawed, dumb, weak, unloveable, failures, reflects what we believe about our Maker. God does not make mistakes. God created each one of us in his image and for his glory. Who are we to criticize ourselves and therefore insult our Creator, our Father? 

I could go on and on about the names God has called us and the identities with which we can truly accept and believe. We are citizens of heaven, members of Christ’s body, temples of the Holy Spirit, friends of God, the salt of the earth, the lights of the world, brides of Christ, saved, redeemed, new creations. I am not defined by my past, my present, or my future. Nor my friends, family, enemies, or myself. Not even by Glorieta Rec Staff. I am not a mistake and I am not a slave to any of these identities. Instead, I am more than a conqueror.  I am the chosen child of God, holy and dearly loved, and so are you. 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” -Colossians 3:12

What’s in your name?

Love, Danger, Jenna-boo, Jennaby, Jenny, Jennabeth, Jenna, Daugter and Bride of Christ, Huckaby 

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