Mark: My tenderhearted friend
Camper: My therapy dog
Glenn: Outside the box
Jesus: The Name above all names

Some of the people for whom I deeply love and care have been called some horrible names.  These names became places of shame and wounding.  Just hearing those names triggers painful memories. Some of my other dearly loved friends have grown up in a world filled with words of affirmation and names that made them feel loved and proud.  These words contributed to them becoming thankful and confident or proud.  The names that we’ve been called build us up or tear us down.  The names and words that we use either add life or take life from others.  What names do you call the people nearby?

Some people have developed tougher skin, and they’re able to “consider the source” and dismiss names and negative words.  Some people, like me, are more tenderhearted and feel everything so deeply.  We can still hear the hurtful words ringing in our heads.  In fact, those names and critical words are the  tapes which we replay that have defined us. 

When we welcome God into the conversations within and between us, God has new names that He uses to define us.  It may take some time and faith and practice saying these new names and words that are sacred, personal, and identity-defining, but our Creator and Designer is the only One who has defining rights.  We get to name our kids, but God gets to name us.  Compared to the degrading names that I heard growing up, here’s what I now get to hear as God’s Spirit speaks to and through me.

You’re mine (Isaiah 43:1).

You’re holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)

You’re a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).

You’re set apart (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

You’re new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You’re my child (John 1:12).

You’re made to reflect and to represent Me (Colossians 3:17).

These powerful names and words can become personal words that define us, but the journey into freedom and having our identity anchored in Christ sometimes begins when God sends us people who speak the truth in love.  Finding people who love us, in spite of all our issues and quirks, who speak life-giving words can change everything.  But until we say good-bye to abusive and sarcastic and “funny” people who verbally wound us, the names that God gives us may just bounce off of us and not penetrate our hearts.  Many of us have spent decades fighting God’s love until God finally breaks through our walls of resistance and melts us with His love.  Many people whom I know and love will say, “If you really get to know me, you probably won’t like me because I don’t.”

When you encounter people who have been hurt, who push you away and reject your love, don’t quit loving them.  They may not believe yet that they’re lovable.  They may test you and your love for a long time before they learn to trust you and your love.  You may still be pushing everyone away because you don’t yet believe that you have incredible worth and value.  I wonder how God feels when He sees how critical and dismissive we can be of ourselves and of others whom He’s made in His loving image. 

Creating a culture and a home where we go from noticing the bad and telling people what’s wrong with them to developing a climate of encouragement may take some time and intentional work and words.  When you become determined to look for the good in yourself and in others and say the good, everything will begin to change.  When you wait to find something good to say before you speak, you’ll be speaking less, but your words will become life-giving.  When you daily fill your mind and your heart with God’s words, then the names and words that you use with others will become a blessing and an encouragement to them.  And if you don’t stop encouraging and building people up, then you’ll eventually begin to hear the people around you using names and words that make people smile and feel good.

I pray that today’s blog will encourage you to start a revolution within and around you.  I pray that you will have the courage to invite Jesus to come and heal your wounds.  I pray that you will have the guts to find and use your words to confront and change the culture of how we speak to and treat one another.  I pray that the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart will be acceptable and pleasing in God’s sight (Psalm 19:14). 

As I close this blog, the words of Scripture and the life-giving words of my favorite songs are ringing in my head.  I’ve dismissed the critical and life-stealing names and words from my internal and external dialog.  I am still a crazy-creative kid who has way-too-much fun, but I daily try to encourage people as Jesus helps this “work in progress.”  Let’s celebrate our risen Savior by being a blessing to those around us.  Use names that put a smile on God’s face and on the faces of people around you.       

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3 thoughts on “Name-Calling”

  1. I loved reading this “letter.” Words are very important! All the time! And names are the most important words of all—well, most of the time. I’m glad you made a list of names God calls his children. Thank you. I am currently memorizing the I Am statements that Jesus made about Himself. I can remember the names; the complete verses are going to take more time. I’m so glad He gave us the names He called Himself. Thanks again for your good thoughts.

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