Names Matter—Here’s How they Define You
A few years ago, my husband joined a men’s group called “F3.” The “Fs” stand for faith, fellowship and fitness. Each time a new guy joins the group, the rest of the men ask some questions to get to know him a bit, and then they give him a fun nickname.
The name choice usually reflects something that they have learned about him. It might sound a little like a fraternity, but I promise it’s not. From that point on, the guys go by their nicknames when they work out together. So much so, that when Dan refers to his F3 friends, I don’t even know their real names. He may be talking about Macaroni, Ragnar, Fulcrum, Crosscheck, Straightedge, Overeasy, Goetta or Swivelhips. My husband’s name? “Bottle Cap.” Why? Because he is passionate about Boy Scouts, and the little Boy Scout, Russell, in the movie “Up” has a bottlecap on his shirt. I don’t fully understand their line of thinking, but I appreciate the camaraderie and way that it makes the guys feel like they have a place.
The Names We Choose Are a Reflection of Us
Throughout our life, there are times when we choose our names and other times when they are given to us. For example, when we create accounts on social media platforms, we register with a username. Whether it’s our real name or a nickname, it usually reflects us in some way.
I’m part of the Peloton workout community. When you create your account, you create a handle, and that is the name you go by on every workout platform. What you choose might be “followed” by others or called out in a live workout by an instructor.
Back when we first joined Peloton, my husband set up our accounts. He asked what I wanted to go by, and I told him that he could pick. He chose “AmyWriter.” (Get it? Writer/Rider?) At the time, I giggled at his creativity but didn’t think much more of it. However, each time I have gotten on the bike or completed a workout, that name has resonated more deeply within me.
I know that my husband chose it out of his desire for me to believe in myself as a writer. I’ve had many emotional moments throughout the past few years where I’ve struggled with asking questions like, “what am I good at?” or “what are my hobbies?” It’s been easy for me to fall into the trap of looking backwards at all that I used to do and wondering where that Amy went. But through the using the name “AmyWriter,” Dan has reminded me of what he sees in me and what he believes God is calling me to be. A writer.
Names define us. For better and for worse. They have power over us. For better, my name Amy means “beloved,” and my middle name Elizabeth comes from a long line of Elizabeths in my family. I have clung to “beloved” in the times when I feel aimless. God has used that name to remind me that my purpose is to be loved by Him and to love others well. And my “Elizabeth” reminds me of what I come from. Hard working women. Good stewards of their time and resources. Women whose husbands served in the military and who didn’t have much, but they knew how to survive with little and open their home to others.
For worse, I was voted “Most Obnoxious” as my senior superlative in high school. Yep. Ouch. That one still hurts. My loud, over-exuberant self must have really made an impact, eh? That label has often kept me from stepping up to lead something or to share my opinions because in my mind I have defined that label as “you’re too loud, you need to keep your mouth shut.” Was that the intent? Who knows, but I must put that name aside and move forward.
But God’s Names Truly Define Us
Unlike what my senior classmates named me, God calls us names that truly define who we are. He calls us His children, His treasure, cities on a hill, the salt of the earth, His beloved, His sheep, and His delight. Our Creator names us perfectly because He created us. What He calls us is what we are. Who we are.
What would happen if we embraced the names that He has given us and started to believe and live out who we are? What if we defined ourselves as His beloved children, seen by Him and called to a specific purpose? Would we live more securely? Would we live more empowered?
God calls us names that truly define who we are.
Our God knows us so much more than our husbands, parents, and best friends do. He sees what we think and do every day. He formed us with a specific purpose and because He is our Creator—who He says we are is what matters. There is power behind the names that He calls us. Let’s have courage to let those names define who we are as we move forward this side of heaven.
The Impact of Your Name
1. What does your name mean? Why did your parents choose it? How have you seen the meaning of your name reflected in your life?
2. For better or for worse: what names have been given to you? How have they impacted your story?
3. What names can you choose for yourself? Which names help you be brave and vulnerable?
4. God calls you so many names in scripture. Which ones are hard to accept? How can you embrace and step into the names that He calls you?
Maybe you’ve been called names that made you doubt yourself and the value of your purpose. Here’s how to forge ahead in truth: