Identity. So much of our lives are based on what we accept as our identity. For better or worse we are told who we are by our families, our friends, our society, our culture, by media executives, and even by strangers. Even if they are wrong, even if they are lies, we will accept what they say and act accordingly. Is it really any surprise how messed up we get?
Centuries ago, when people first started using family names/last names, people were often labelled by their occupation. Cook, Taylor, and Smith are common names today because they were common occupations. When I meet someone with such a last name, I catch myself wondering about the very first one in their family history to bear the name. Was she the cook for a laird, was he a tailor for a royal, was he a blacksmith for the local hamlet?
My last name means “town of the sacred place”. I have no idea where that town is or what the story was behind the sacred place. I do hope that one day I will be able to travel to the land of my ancestors and set foot in that town. I want to learn about the first one in my family to have identified himself with that sacred place.
Recently I came across someone with the last name Sinner. I kid you not. Talk about a label! My first thought was, “If that was my last name, I would have changed it.” I wondered about the first Sinner. What was their crime? Who would have been so heartless as to label that person and everyone in their future lineage a Sinner? And why did the family keep that name? Or have they, and everyone currently bearing that name, become so hateful of those that would label them Sinner that they now wear it as a badge of pride? Like many in our society, the things that would have made our grandparents drop dead of a heart attack are now out there, thrown in everyone’s faces, and you are the one labelled if you have a problem with it.
But then again, how many of us actually feel that our last name has anything to do with who we are? I doubt everyone with the last name of Makepeace feels compelled to mediate for others, no more than everyone with the first name of Christian actually is a follower of Christ.
If you were to give yourself a name, first and last…what would you pick? Would it be a badge of pride or one of anger? Would it reflect who you are or who you hope to be? Would you spend hours researching its meaning or would you go with whatever sounded cool, or strong, or poetic?
All I can think is that I am greatful that who I am here is temporary. When I get to heaven, I will be given a new name. The things of this world will fade like a dream, and all the labels that I have been stuck with, labored under, and wondered about will be gone. My Creator will be there. He will whisper in my ear a new name, one that He kept especially for me. It will be a name that reflects the fullness of who I am as His daughter, the daughter of a king. It will reflect the beauty of His intimate creation. More fitting than the title of any painting, more apt than the heading of any poem, I will receive a name so precious that when I hear it, I will understand who I am, forever. I can’t wait.