What name do you go by?
Has your given name influenced how you see yourself?
As a young child, I heard a name that stuck with me. When I was ten years old my Grandpa told me about one of his childhood classmates.
Her name was: Callie Clarisis Cinderella Tibytha Tibora Altricia Berdett.
My sister and I laughed, and then spent time memorizing it. Every day since, my sister has called me “Callie,” and her children and their children call me Aunt Callie. My two oldest friends also call me “Callie.”
When I was growing up my class was full of girls answering to: Linda, Susan, Barbara and Kathy. Today unique names are very popular.
In a quick search of “famous people with my name,” I discovered:
• Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian novelist and short story writer
• Clarice Cliff, an English ceramic artist
• Clarice Kennedy, an Australian athlete
Of course, I can also find films that placed “Clarice” in major or minor roles, but rarely appealing. For example Clarice was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’s girlfriend, and in Sleepless in Seattle, we see just a flash of Clarice as the eccentric babysitter.
Has your name influenced how you see yourself?
I have two grandchildren who redefined their names as third graders: Elizabeth Jane (we called her “Ellie”) decided to go by “Elizabeth.” Ayden Kai (we called him “Ayden”) decided to go by “Kai.”
Their decision gave me courage to ask my grandchildren to call me “Grandma Callie.”
We can let our given names impact who we are -- for better or worse. Through the years I’ve received comments like:
“Hmmm. Clarice? What do people call you?”
“So… is that a family name?”
More often it is simply a mispronouncing (Claris) or forgetting altogether. Each meet-and-greet occasion reminds me that my name comes with images. I suppose that is true for many, whether the image is positive or not.
In Bob Goff’s devotional, Live in Grace. Walk in Love, he address this temptation to let others define us. His words nudged me to look at how others’ view of me (beginning with my name) has tempered who I am, and not always in a good way.
These quotes may be worth your meditation, too:
“God never looked in your mirror and wished he saw someone else.”
“He (God) said you and I were made in His image, with all the wonderful variety that includes. God made some of us sensitive and others analytical, some slender and some burly, some soft-spoken and some rambunctious.”
“If God wanted you to be like other people, He would’ve made us all the same. God chose to surprise us with different parts of His character and personality by showing part of Himself through you, through me, and even the people who occasionally drive us nuts.”
“Be yourself and let others be themselves –
because that’s the starting point of God’s love. “
I invite you to join me in considering whose view most influences how we see ourselves -- people or God?
From your name to your character, is there a part you want to embrace today and another part you want to change? Sometimes it just takes the courage of a child.