For most of my life I had only ever heard one definition about my name – River. Or stream…or…brook. Take your pick. I was water! And I had heard all of the sweet nuances that my kind mother tried to assure me of such as the fact that streams were refreshing and brought life.
Oh and I definitely had my fair share of being called a Babbling Brooke. And it was all fine with me. I embraced it. I love my name. And I really do believe in the power of knowing and owning the meanings of names.
But then, a couple of years ago now, I heard a new definition of my name.
The sound of that word coming out of Liz’s mouth as she shared what she had learned about my name evoked this deep, gut-level desire to be at peace. So much so that the tears came immediately and wouldn’t stop.
I remember getting in bed that night and lying there, pleading with God to show me how I would ever find true peace in my life, and how I would ever be the kind of vessel that brought peace to others.
I knew I had always been able to bring fun and laughter, energy and probably more chaos than I want to admit. But that night I discovered my deep desire to be a vessel of peace, and that first I would need to live in that reality of peace that only comes from being linked to the true source of such a thing.
Isn’t that true for all of us? At the end of the day, we lie in bed, alone with our thoughts, with our memories, with our fears and regrets, with our hopes that we’re too scared to voice out loud. We long for a true deep meaning to our lives, to our identities, to our names.
When this name was spoken over me I was in the darkest season of my entire life. I was trying to make sense of what it meant to be completely imperfect and was fighting the feeling of being a failure on a level I had never experienced.
I was also trying to make sense of what it meant to be a victim of emotional and sexual abuse; a victim of deep and very confusing manipulation, and at the hands of a Christian at that. I was processing what to do with well-meaning people all around me who just didn’t understand and the cavernous loneliness and confusion that came from that.
I was trying to understand how to follow Jesus even though I felt like I had let Him down more than I ever could have imagined being capable of doing, and then still trying to open myself up to receiving His undying love and devotion to me in the midst of feeling the most unworthy of that love and devotion than I had ever felt.
Everywhere I looked I felt like I was losing, being depleted of any sense of peace or joy.
And yet, I still desired it. And in this moment I realized that there was still a soul inside of me that was awake, thirsty and desiring to thrive.
When I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks on end, there was a spirit alive in me. His Spirit.
And this spirit inside of me desired peace.
It was the first glimpse of hope I remember feeling that I wasn’t just lost to the identity of depressed and wandering victim, but that there was a source of life bigger than anything I could do to snuff it out. And this source of life in me…it wasn’t just life in itself, it desired life for every step that I took after this.
Yes, the power of a name. It’s real, and it’s divine and it’s God’s design for us.
Later on, just a few months ago, my dear friend Austin looked up the meaning of my middle name, Nicole, when once again I was having to fight just a little bit harder than normal to remember the healing that God has brought me into after that terrible season of life.
See, there’s a power in owning who we are in Christ no matter what the world tries to tell us about ourselves. There’s a power in surrendering to God’s definition of us, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Even when we don’t believe it.
Wherever you are today, whether it’s easy for you to believe who God says you are or whether you don’t ever want to hear the name of God again, you are still a divinely created and obsessively loved person who matters; who has infinite worth.
You are still named by your Father, individually and purposefully.
You are not your darkest moments, your worst failures or your most devastating experiences. They are a part of your story, but they are not what defines you.
What’s your name? Search it out until you find a definition that causes that spirit inside of you to desire life again as you’ve never known it.
You’ll find it, but you must also find the courage to own it when you do.