“We tend to believe what we are told about ourselves if it is repeated and reinforced enough.” (Zan Tyler)
On an icy, wintery day in January 1979 I was born. My parents named me Jessica. I was named for my grandpa Jesse. It was given by parents who loved me and was rooted in my family’s history. I knew from my birth that I was valued and loved.
It has taken me a long time on this path to figure out that God knew that name before my parents even chose it.
He knew who I would become, what I would be called, and where I would wander.
There was no way I could be Anonymous.
The Voices That Knew My Name
I remember as a young girl waking up from a terrible nightmare of dark images and horrid faces. As I lay in bed sweating and terrified a voice spoke in the night calling my name, “Jessica.” I was terrified. I remember crying and running to my parents.
The voice kept speaking my name as I stood shivering at the foot of their bed.
But they couldn’t hear it.
“Don’t you hear that?” I shout terrified as the voice spoke my name again. I don’t know what they were thinking.
I remember in that moment my dad rebuking that voice to silence and praying over me.
My daddy prayed over me. And the voice was silenced.
That voice that taunted my name was shut and I never heard him speak my name from his own mouth again.
A few summers ago I had the opportunity to hear Sandi Patty speak at a Women of Faith Conference about her life.
Her story is a life: reframed, reclaimed, and renamed by God.
I can identify with a life reframed.
I can see the workings of a God who has allowed my life to be stripped and reshaped more than once according to His plans not anyone else.
I can see now all the behind the scene whisperings and workings of those grownups in my life attempting to make my life look like what they thought it should be:
- where I should live
- where I should work
- how many kids
- which church
- which ministry
- which friends
- how my gifts/abilities should be used
Why is it instead of asking straight up what I wanted or needed or thought these “wise adults” simply had to have my life on their terms and in their timing and their way?
I wasn’t entitled to an opinion about: who, what, where, when, why, or how of my own becoming.
So I walked away feeling used, naive, abused, confused about purpose and calling and LOVE.
While those “wise grownups” have a right to be angry? resentful? concerned? when I choose a different path?
Somewhere in all that outside contourting God’s voice had been lost or discarded or not fully discovered.
I had to fight with tears flat on my face to get that Voice back: His voice and My voice.
The silencing of every counterfeit has been painful.
Every time the enemy that has been attempting to speak my name since childhood has tried to use an alternative voice (a wise grownup perhaps) to speak his objectives into my heart and life God has been right there watching, guiding, and waiting for me to learn what is true and what is false.
“There is power in what we name ourselves. There is power in what other people name us as well. Both the power to bless and the power to curse come from the heart and flows out the mouth through words. What we call something, what we are called, whether good or evil, will play itself out in our lives.” (Stasi Eldredge, Becoming Myself)
Every fraud-filled place I have wandered has been wrought with counterfeit voices and messages that were always attempting to take His place in my life.
Every false name that has been spoken and every false name i have given myself… I have had to walk beside and live with and overcome to become more of me.
That road has been excruciatingly painful.
It has hurt, but all along the way He has been using the pain to reframe me.Blessed is She Who Comes in the Name of the LORD
He is reclaiming me too. Taking back my life and my song, and my words and making them all about Him. My very life a lesson in learning how to release the toxic and abide in the light of Jesus.
I am tired of the shadows.
I am tired of letting those who live in the shallows to have a say about the deep places of me.
It is exhausting dodging and discerning counterfeit voices.
I am also unsure how to be OK with the name I’ve been given however God choses to use it.
But I have numerous Biblical examples to follow…
- When Abram became Abraham….
- When Sarai became Sarah…
- When Jacob became Israel…. (after wrestling with God no less)
- When Saul became Paul…
- When Joseph became Baranabas…
- When Simon became Peter (Cephas)
They took on greater risk and responsibility after being identified by their true name.
- the parents of a nation
- the father of many tribes
- the murderer becomes the voice to the Gentiles traveling and planting churches all over the Roman Empire
- a fellow in their midst becomes known by his gift of encouragement
- that loud mouth fisherman became the rock on which Christ’s church was to be built (John 1:41-42).
- NO PRESSURE THERE.
Over the past year or so the theme of NAME has popped up in and around me. The name I was given as a brand new baby. The names I’ve been called by those who speak truth and those who prefer their delusions. I’ve thought a lot about who I really am because I am not just my blog name: Jezamama.
I am a real woman. There have been times when I thought it might be better to unplug all my online profiles – or write anonymously or nothing at all. So I changed my name on my Facebook page and deleted/then renamed my twitter page to reflect where my heart was wandering.
Then I changed it back again like some kind of crazy person.
But I know my online names do NOT MATTER.
I know what the enemy of my soul calls me is NOT TRUE whether he is using his own voice or one of those wise grownups to speak the falsehood.
I know the words that others use to condemn and ridicule me are not really about me.
What matters is who I am right here and now before God – Who does HE SAY I AM!
“What you call someone or something is powerful. It affects your life, your relationships, and your walk with God. What you call yourself affects your ability to become who you are meant to be. God knows there is power in what we call ourselves.” (Stasi Eldredge)
In Stasi Eldredge’s new book, “Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You,” she talks about discovering the truth behind your given name. So I dug deep to find out what my name means beyond the typical American children’s name dictionary. This is what I found:
Definition: Hebrew meaning, “Wealthy One”
Origins: fem. proper name, from Late Latin Jesca, from Greek Ieskha, from Hebrew Yiskah, name of a daughter of Haran (Gen. xi:29).
Then digging deeper:
Hebrew: Iscah = “one who looks forth” from an unused root meaning “to watch”
Do you know your name’s meaning?
“Because you cannot live well, and you cannot love well. and you cannot fulfill your destiny if you do not know who you are. You cannot become yourself if you do not know who you are to become.” (Stasi Eldredge)