Lying on a bed with needles coming out of you (acupuncture, not something more serious) may not seem particularly restful but this morning I found myself changing my 7pm listening time for 7am listening time. Really, it’s amazing how those enforced still times can be useful for reorienting your thoughts or, if I’m honest, letting your mind wander. And my mind wandered.
It wandered to a song as it often does. This time it was “I will change your name”. There is no reason why this song should have popped into my head. I probably haven’t thought about it for years. So, in that situation I assume it’s probably a God thing. So I let it resonate around in my head for a while and then my mind wandered away.
I started to notice that one of the needles was feeling tender. It was in my left leg which I term my “scar leg”. About 25 years ago when I was a 7-year-old I was in a pedestrian/car accident. This resulted in multiple surgeries and reconstruction of my left leg below the knee. I’m fine now but situations around that time had left me feeling self-conscious about my leg. Some people don’t really care how they comment to children. Be mindful, these things stick. Children can hear you say they’re silly, stupid, and that the broken leg that you came to gawk at is “gross”. I’ve come to terms with my and my leg’s past and have adopted the stance of pride. I wear my scar, my battle scar, with honor. It represents what I’ve come through.
But a leg by any other name…With that song resonating through my head I realized that this leg of mine had been given a name, by me, that defined it. I introduced it to doctors as “my scar leg” or to others as “my scar”. There’s so much in a name. Why was I letting this name define part of me? Why was I holding on to this label representing my past so strongly? There is no strength difference between my legs. No difference at all except appearance. Yet, I was struck by my own ease in limiting part of myself.
This wasn’t just about a leg. I was and still partially am defined by this scar which represents my experiences. That is why this song resonated with me so strongly. We name our scars, physical, emotional, and spiritual. We name them and hold on to they so strongly because of how they define us, for better or worse. We name parts of ourselves to remember or maybe others named us in ways we can’t forget.
God changes people’s names. In the Bible he changes them to redefine a person, give them new purpose, to allow others to see them in a different light. He changes the names we call ourselves. He changes the names others call us. He calls us as he created us.
I found freedom today, all stuck with pins. I realized that too often instead of letting my past define and equip me, I let it hold me back or hold me hostage to an idea of myself that God didn’t name. I keep myself in place out of habit instead of letting God show me how he thinks of me and what my new name will be. I’m not sure what this will look like, letting him redefine me, but I’m not satisfied with my own names anymore.