Love Changed My Name

It was seven short months ago my name was “broken”, “fearful”, and “lonely”. Imagine introducing yourself to someone new. “Hi! It’s so great to meet you. My name is ‘broken’. You?” Uhhh, that’s a handshake I’d politely decline. “I don’t want to catch that”, I’d think to myself. It’s no secret I’ve struggled most of my life with intimacy. In fact, it was in middle school when I first recognized it as a problem. I became a super territorial friend because I felt that this person was a safe place for me to land, emotionally. “It was middle school”, some might think. What middle school kid wasn’t territorial of their friends? Right?

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I thought it started there, in that strange land of hormones, cliques, and awful trends, but I realized, I had earned the name "broken" long before middle school. I asked God for a revelation of why I stood, twenty-something, still feeling small, lonely and unstable in almost every way, after repeatedly acknowledging I needed Him. I prayed, “Alright God, you made me. Either you've made a mistake here, or I must be missing something."

In first grade, (Yes, He took me all the way back there), I played carelessly on the playground. One hand, I imagine, holding a CapriSun and the other hand in a game of freeze tag as my feet moved as quickly as they could. A girl approached me and said she wanted to show me (and another kid) something her dad or uncle or stepdad (don't remember) had taught her. On playgrounds there used to be an open tire that kids could sit in and play inside. That's where this happened. In a nutshell, she was touched inappropriately and was told that this meant love. Her eyes glistened in excitement as she showed me all the wrong that was done to her. I don't remember being touched, but I do remember seeing things a child should not have seen. I never spoke of that moment, but I avoided her until she eventually transferred schools some years later. 

It would be many years later when I responded to the name “fearful” and oh what a grip it would have on my life. “Fearful” made me manipulative. I needed a person. I had the most loving family, friends and church but I felt so incomplete without one person who valued me above the rest. Maybe I thought that person would fill some hole in me or maybe I thought that one person would make me feel less shameful. Out of fear, I hung on to people and things that I shouldn't have and often confused love with attachment. There was an endless void that could not be filled, so I began filling the void with other things. What can I accomplish? What can I work towards? What will make me feel whole or complete? After I worked hard at those things and still came up empty, I started to take on the name “lonely”. I no longer wanted relationships or community because I thought that I would screw it up.

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Some months ago, I hit a dark place, and I knew that I was either coming out on the other side or it was going to take me under. This moment was a choice I made in about three minutes, on the phone with a friend. I tried measuring the worth of my life by the happiness and satisfaction I was feeling in that very moment, however, that is impossible. Our lives cannot be measured in cups and quarts of emotions, but instead should always be weighed in “so love”. For God “so loved” the world that He gave his only son. He SO LOVED us. That is where my worth is. That is where your worth is, as well. He loved us even while we were a hot mess. *Cough* I may still be there at times, but I am nowhere in the same place that I was. My worth doesn’t come from what others think about me and neither can your worth. When you’re wondering if you’re loved, if you’re valued, if you are worth something, you are. Go back to the “so loved.”

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There were several times I had a chance to change my name, but I was so attached to it. It's like our old last names when we get married, many of us women take on the last name of our spouses, but we've responded to Williams, Roberts, Johnson or another name for so long, that the old one still rings a bell. It signifies where we came from, how we grew up, or some legacy we may want to leave behind. It's our NAME. I was recently listening to the story of Abraham, which I had heard so many times before, but this time the story hit me in a new way. Before Abraham was Abraham, his name was Abram, and he was instructed to leave everything behind. God told him to look at the sky and count the stars and that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars. There’s so much more to Abraham's story, but I hope that you look at the sky and SEE your freedom, SEE that you are whole, SEE that God has a new name for you. Abraham's promises were waiting for him when he was willing to leave his past behind. 

The very things Satan has wanted to hold over me are the same places God has told me I would be free. I'm not "broken", "fearful", or "lonely". I'm "whole", "joyful", and "healed". Love changed my name. Love left me voicemails when I continued to ignore its phone calls. Love asked me where I was when I stopped showing up to be with my community. Love even sang me a song and watched me cry a few nights. Love didn’t judge me when I fell away or needed space. Love was in my parents, in my sister, in my friends, and ultimately, in God. So Love, look up, count the stars and ask God to show you, your new name. It is time to move on.

Lucy HowardComment