Recently I changed the description of myself on my Facebook page from a group of noun descriptors (Christian. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Daughter. Friend. Counselor. Teacher) to “Just plain ‘ol Cathy”……this is a phrase I got to repeat many times as I was growing up and moving out into the world and that still gets employed from time to time. When I’ve met someone new they’d often say, “Cathy. Is that short for Catherine or Cathleen?” “No,“ I’d reply. “It’s just plain ‘ol ‘Cathy’.” I like being just plain ‘ol Cathy. It’s a good thing, too.
I knew a woman who grew up with a “plain ‘ol” name like mine. She set out to make her mark on the world and changed her name, legally, to something more glamorous and in keeping with how she wanted the world to see and know her. She wore that name for the next 40 years. Eventually, her circumstances brought her back to where she began, among people who had known her then. After a few years, one day she said to me, “Did you know I changed my name back?” “To what?” I asked. I had never known that the name I knew was not the one to which she’d been born. “Don’t call me *—–* anymore. I’m *——-*”, she said.
It was awkward for a while. But gradually I became comfortable with what was, for me, her “new” name.
I’d heard one time that God puts the name of a child on the heart of the parents. Each of us is, therefore, ultimately called by the name that God has chosen for us. And names do have meanings, but the meanings don’t always seem to apply to the person to which they are attached. For instance, my name…..Cathy…..has a meaning in linguistic history. “Pure”. Since I first discovered the meaning of “Cathy”, I have known that I could never live up to it.
New names that we give ourselves can be awkward. Some people will absolutely dismiss them out of hand. Others, who know no better, will embrace them without question. There is a new name, however, that God gives us that is our true identity. When we, by virtue of that precious relationship with Christ, come to know our new, true name, it is one that we recognize, although we may have to grow into it…….. Like Simon had to grow into Peter. Like Saul had to grow into Paul. Like Jesus had to grow into Christ.
I have watched several of the “I Am Second” video testimonies. I understand that the “Second” in the title is a position, not a name. I have even heard recently of some who have chosen to apply a different position to themselves through their testimony….. “I Am Third”, as in “Jesus first, others second, and self third.” Even so, it doesn’t matter what name or position we apply to ourselves. What matters is the one that others see, know, and apply to us. I recall how I looked down awkwardly and embarrassed but secretly surprised and humbled, when someone I trusted and admired called me “disciple” during a “get to know and affirm one another” exercise in a group of people.
Among those names or positions that others see, know, and apply to us, they are not really all that important in the long run, because I suspect that those are not the names and positions that will follow us into eternity. The only one(s) that will matter then is what Christ sees, knows, and applies to us. And I know what that one is…….. “Cherished”.