Friday, January 18, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name -- Hope Chronicles 11

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose , by any other name would smell as sweet." It's a famous line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette. And the conclusion is that the name isn't what matters. Romeo would still be Romeo even if he wasn't a Montague (but it would have been easier if that was the case). A rose smells the same no matter what it is called.

Can I weigh in on both sides? Yes, a rose still smells the same, but there is something significant about our names. Why else would we be hurt when someone cannot remember our names? However, I am also willing to admit that this may be a pet peeve of mine. As you might guess from the picture, I am an identical twin. I do mean identical. We were constantly mixed up as children. I know the trick of telling us apart in some of the more "staged" photos. (We were placed in alphabetical order.) Give me purely candid shots and I am often guessing too!

Recently, I had some friends' children over. One found a tape and wanted to know what movie I had rented. It was actually a video made out of the reel to reel (yes, I'm dating myself) tapes of when I was a child. He wanted to see and asked, "So which one are you?" All the motion of two busy two-year-olds left it impossible for me to decide which one I was!

While some twins "outgrow" this identicalness, Sara and I still look remarkably alike. She recently attended the Hearts at Home conference in Grand Rapids, MI -- about 5 1/2 hours from where I live. Several people from my church are involved in Hearts. Sara had person after person come up and exclaim, "What are you doing here? I didn't know you were coming." To which she replied, "I am NOT who you think I am!"

In light of this, I'll have to forgive my grandfather for never knowing us apart. He called all the granddaughters "Honey" and "Missy" interchangeably while we were growing up. At about 14, it dawned on us to ask, "Now, which one am I?" We were horrified to find he didn't know!

Perhaps it is teenage girl thing, but I went through a phase of deciding what I would name my children when I had them. In bookstores, I could be found perusing the baby name books because somewhere in my head I had decided that when I named my children, I wanted the names to have meaning. This meant that they needed to be named after someone important in my life or that the name actually meant something. I planned out how I would tell them what their name meant and that each time I spoke their name I was speaking that characteristic into being in them. Lovely thought, isn't it?

At the same time, I could not resist knowing what my name meant. All the books agreed that "Amy" meant "beloved." However, I never had the courage to ask my parents why they chose that name for me. I know very little about the day I was born except that they had no clue that they were in for a bonus baby! I do not know if that excited them or overwhelmed them. I know only that we were premature and had to stay in the hospital for awhile and that Sara went home several days before I did. I do not know if they kept a vigil while we were there. I really know next to nothing.

But I do know that I did not feel "beloved." My family was a dysfunctional mess and "I love you" was not said and affection was not shown. (Even as adults, my sisters and I cannot seem to move beyond this.) I learned early on that it was better to read unobserved in the corner than to be noticed. If you were noticed, there was typically a sharp word or a criticism or a reprimand or any number of things. So, in my mind, I think I have always felt that it was some cruel joke like calling the fat kid "Skinny" to be called "Beloved" and not feel loved.

Most of my Christian life, I have approached God with caution. I've sometimes thought that I had snuck in the backdoor and could only stay as long as He didn't notice me. For awhile I opted out of church. When I came back, I came back literally trembling. For months I did not partake in communion just in case God might strike me down with a great zap from heaven for sullying His table after having abandoned church for so many months and being a sinner.

Luckily, even when I abandoned church, God did not abandon me. God has brought me into a great community of believers. From my friend Jill I have learned to say, "I love you." I also believe she has chosen to love me. I was (and to some degree still am) as prickly as porcupine when she first met me. (It can't be easy to love a porcupine!) Perhaps, more importantly than learning to say it, I have learned to hear it and receive it and believe it from others and God. I am still working to know how to rest in it.

Love. It drew Jesus to the cross for me. It made Him stay there until it was through when legions of angels were waiting for His call to sweep in and bring Him down from that brutal cross. For my sake, He endured the ultimate agony when taking my sin upon himself, God turned away. He did it for me. Because of that, I can never say that I am "unloved."

I do not profess to understand the book of Revelation. But with my fascination with names, Revelation 2:17 has always caught my imagination. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."

A name only between me and God, written on a pure white stone. With as much as I've struggled to understand His love, I might not be surprised to find my own name written there -- "Amy, loved one." I have hope because of His love for me.


jillybean said...

Great perspective, Amy. Believe it or not, I actually guessed which one was you in the picture and that's before I remembered about the alphabetical order thing!

Laura said...

Great post. You are His beloved - and that is all that matters! Praying that becomes rooted in your heart!

Yes, we are all feeling better! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Julie said...

Amy, This is absolutely beautiful, what you have written. I can relate to your story. When I was born, my parents were expecting a boy. They didn't have a girl's name picked out. In fact they didn't have a name for 3 days. I was known as "Baby Hobbs". Due to knowing this I spent most of my life feeling like I was a mistake, not what they wanted, but what they got.

God used a teaching (Captivating) to reveal to me that I was just what He had designed me to be. I was CHOSEN to be a girl. He also told me about my name.

I am believe it was not your parents that named you but God. I also believe you were named perfectly. Amy - Beloved of God. You are Beloved of God. So the name fits you perfectly.

Have you read the book, Captivating, by John & Stasi Eldredge? If you have not, you might want to.
Just a suggestion.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Your compliments meant the world to me, especially the part about being a good writer. I have a hard time taking that in. I do love to write though.

I think you and I could be good friends.

I like the way you write.

I hope you will stop by again.


Carol said...

This was so beautiful. I was just in Revelations in my quiet time last week and was intrigued by the same verse. Thank you for the sweet comment on my blog! :) Carol

Julie said...

Amy, Thank you for your comment on my blog.

I have not idea how to add a way to subscribe to my blog. Can you help me with that?

What is Feedburner or Feedblitz?

I'd love to know more about this, but you gotta take me through step by step, like talking to a young student....cause even though I'm 50 years old, I am a young student in "computer technology". : )


LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

Did you ever read Philip Yancey's book, What's So Amazing about Grace? In the beginning he said he left the Church because he didn't find grace in it. He said he returned to the Church because he didn't find grace out in the world either.
I think family life is like the Church at large- it's dysfunctional, full of moments of joy and painful memories. But there't the HOPE of seeing that grace get revealed in us, to others, through us- in the Church.

You're a beautiful honest woman. I love how you share your heart.

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Amy, This is a great redemptive story of God's work of love in your heart. He has called you His beloved from the beginning and now you are starting to see it little by little. Can't wait til that day when we see our new names!