So my husband and I are big on names. For generations, his family has named all the men different variants of R.W. Hannon. When God kept sending us boy after boy, we decided to branch out a bit. But not too far. Everybody has a good, hardy R.W. in the middle of their title so their nomenclature is plenty long and exceedingly pretentious. We’ve got the 'O.G.', Roman Wesley Hannon. The, 'Reprise', Levi Reid Warren Hannon. The 'What, You’re Kidding Me, Another Boy?!', Asher Rainn Wallace Hannon. And the 'I can’t Believe You’re Not a Girl', Gabriel Richard William Hannon.
One small word is not enough for love
Try remembering all that when they’re in trouble!! “Roman Rainn Richard Reid River Raul Hannon! Get down here right now!” Just kidding. They’re perfect and they’ve never been in trouble. Not even once. ;) Which is part of why they probably don’t even know their real names. The other reason is that we never use them. For each of our four boys, we have loads of nicknames. I can’t resist. I’ve been throwing them out for the last 12 years. We’re currently pressing 50 regularly used terms of endearment. I understand why Jewish tradition has 900 names for God; one small word is not enough for love.
Crazy Face. Lovie. Baby Guy. Puffin. Silly Head. Oh, we’re just getting started.
Biggie Smalls. Lil’ Puff. Squeezy. Mommy’s Guy. Brobie. Best Boy. Bubs. Peach. Poof-head. Tiny Person. Impy-do. Crazy Face. Lovie. Baby Guy. Puffin. Silly Head. Oh, we’re just getting started. These are just the generic names that apply to all 4 of my besties. I have a zillion more child-specific pet names, too. They might sound ridiculous to you, but Romano Cheese-Sauce, Super P., Ash-Crash and Gabe-raham feel known and loved every time I whip out a new moniker. Because it means we have relationship, one that’s so intimate that I am allowed to speak into their identity. Not everyone gets that privilege.
But the reality is, a lot of us have some unwelcome titles marring our memory and our good name.
Our intimacy in relationship gives place to what others are allowed to call us, from formal titles at the institutional level, to given names with acquaintances, to love names with family. I think that’s why names can be so powerful. When people who are close to us wield that intimacy poorly, we can end up damaged by their labels. My hope is that your past is full of life-giving names like Angel-Face, Sweetheart and Darling. But the reality is, a lot of us have some unwelcome titles marring our memory and our good name. Provers 18:21 warns us: The power of life and death is in the tongue.
When I was a kid, my relatives used to call me Little Sallad, Sallad Noswad. This is my Dad’s name backwards. I thought being called Little Dallas meant that I looked like a 48 year old man and it was very disparaging. Especially since my dad had a pronounced schnoz, girthy mid-section and graying hair—just how you want people to describe you when you’re an insecure pre-teen in glasses. Thanks guys. My sister also used to torment me with a silly song in which the punch line was “big fat bo-berra, TARA!” Even though I was fit and thin, it messed with my head. She was tall and willowy. I was short and muscular. Her words mattered to me. It sunk down deeper than intended and manifested itself later with food issues and self-esteem problems. What names have you been called? Stupid, selfish, lazy, disgusting, fat, forgetful, useless… worse?
The Bible is replete with nicknames our Heavenly Father has for us.
Let’s find out what names God calls you. How does HE speak into your identity? The Bible is replete with nicknames our Heavenly Father has for us. Darling, Beloved, Beautiful One. He calls us Lambs and Priests and Little children. He calls us The Redeemed. He calls us His. The list is long and loving and restorative. I want to highlight a few of my favorites.
You are God's Friend
John 15:15 says “I have called you friends.” The older Buz and I get the more we’ve realized just how rare and special finding true friends has become. One of my favorite passages of scripture is when Exodus 33:11 says Moses spoke to God, "face to face, as a man speaks to his FRIEND.” It’s so redemptive to be called the friend of God. Life can be a lonely road at times. Dear companions, even spouses can let us down or overlook us. But no matter how often we’re betrayed, disappointed or abandoned by our earthly friends, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
You are God's Masterpiece
The Bible says we are created in His very own image and His designs are supreme; we are the apogee of all that has been made.
Ephesians 2:10 declares that “we are God’s masterpiece…” As an artist myself, I love to gaze at beautiful things-- the soft contours of a baby’s cheek, the rich vermillion of a field of wild poppies… and I try to recreate a semblance of the glory I see. But my handiwork always falls painfully short of what I can even imagine. God’s does not. The Bible says we are created in His very own image and His designs are supreme; we are the apogee of all that has been made. We reflect His divine light, all dewey and incandescent, shimmering in myriad array of colors. We each hang in a gallery of perfection, a painting so exquisite we cannot be replicated or surpassed. Wow. Remember that the next time you feel mirror-shamed. #Nightimeroutine and all the creams!
You are God's Treasure
If God's house is burning down, you are the one thing He's grabbing. You are all that matters.
If you’re still reeling from how masterfully you've been fashioned, let’s talk about how you’re also His treasure. “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7:6) Any good pirate or six year old boy will tell you that you brandish your sword and go to the ends of the earth for treasure. You fight for it, you barter for it and you keep it locked away from prying eyes and greedy hands. But God’s not into trunks of gold, chocolate coins or Lego diamonds—we are his most prized possession. He owns us and values us above all else. If God’s house is burning down, He's skipping the fine China, the flatscreen and the book safe. YOU are the one thing He’s grabbing. You are all that matters.
Why?! Because He calls us His sons and daughters.
You are God's Child
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18) There’s no greater position of honor we can be given—we are no longer acquaintance or even friend—we are part of the family, a CHILD of the Most High God. In this grand adoption, we get to take His name. It trumps all others. It covers over the brokenness of our own human lineage. We have a seat at the table, a portion of the inheritance, a place to call Home.
He may not call you Romeo, Smashy, Peevy-Weavey or Gabersonian, but His banner over you is Love. You are the Apple of His eye, His Chosen Race, His Saints and Disciples. You are the One whom His soul loves. Flawless. Redeemed. Celebrated. Welcomed. Adored. From a long way off, our Abba Father sees us coming. He flings wide the door and calls us by name.
Love Tara Nicole
(or should I say "Nicker Bickers," as my mother calls me)
For further reading and resources consider:
Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name by Max Lucado
God's Names (Children Desiring God) by Sally Michael
The Names of God: 52 Bible Studies by Ann Spangler