I hated my first name as a kid. All of my friends seemed to have cute names; Kim, Becky, Sue, others had names that could be made into cute nicknames, Nicole became Nik, Melony became Mel, My name, however? My name is Gretchen. There is nothing cute about it. It’s a lot like a growl, something said in anger, it even has a gritty sound to it.
There are no nicknames that can come out of it without a lot of effort. So, there I was in grade school, junior high, and high school with eight letters that stuck out like a sore thumb. To top it off, I had copper red hair, it was like a neon sign in the night sky. I wanted to blend into the crowd, to be lost in the sea of blondes and brunettes, but I felt like I stuck out everywhere I went.
When I became a believer, I began to understand God does things differently. The name my folks gave me represented the treasure I am to them. My name comes from Margaret and it means pearl; something that is valued and sought after. The further I dug into Scripture, the more often I would find that the names given in the Old Testament often told a story. Names that represented joy or pain or even reflected the relationship between God and His people.
Scripture even tells that when we get to Heaven God is going to give us a new name, one no one else has ever spoken, has ever teased about; a name only known to God and you (Revelation 2:17).
The biggest struggles in my faith journey have been the grenades of shame the enemy has tossed onto my path to prevent me from going forward. All the shame, regret, and pain I felt about my past is thrown at me to try to keep me from embracing the new name I have because of Christ. The enemy does not want me to take my new position in the Kingdom of God as a co-heir with Christ. As a daughter of God, a new creation, as Hephzibah (“my delight is in her,” Isaiah 62:4).
Every time I raise my head up as a woman of God who has been freed from the bondage of my past, the enemy tries to knock me back down, like a spiritual whack-a-mole. The goal of the enemy is to keep us bowed down under the weight of our sins, the baggage of who we were before Christ.
The only way we can break this cycle is to remember to only answer to our new name. The one God gave us. We have been adopted into the family of God and just as an adopted child is given a new name by his new parents, we no longer answer to who we were. We only answer to who we are now.
Jesus bore our shame (Isaiah 53:3, 1 Peter 2:24). Since He took it and paid for it, we are called to Walk Worthy of this calling (Colossians 2:6-7). If we are walking worthy then our head needs to be help up, not bowed down in shame.
In Christ, there ain’t no shame in our new name.
Can I get an amen??