It took less than a second, but it changed the way I thought about myself for years. She chanted, “Tuna Breath” as I sat quietly by myself eating the tuna sandwich my mother made for me. I was an impressionable preteen, and the new kid at school. The same girl thought it amusing to call me “Ms. Dainty”. Being petite and girlie, I was picked last for any sports teams during recess. Any healthy self-image I had was beginning to spiral down the drain.
Whoever coined the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” was lying. Names hurt. Words convey images to our mind. For instance; when I say chair, you form a picture in your head. Words spoken over us have the ability to bring life or death (Prov. 18:21). Names spoken over me sent a message that said, “I’m not good enough, I’m unworthy, I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me, I can’t do anything right, and I don’t fit in.”
I recently heard Beth Helton speak at a seminar about discovering our identity in Christ. Enthusiastically, she told us she asked the Lord to give her something really cool to share with us. To her surprise she heard, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the Kings horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” She chuckled at the childishness of it but knew there was a deep truth to it.
Names can shatter us into little pieces. Only the King, Jesus, can put us back together again. He takes all our broken pieces and make us whole again. He did it for me, and he will do it for you; you need only come. Enter his presence in stillness and listen. Is Jesus giving you a new name?
The words Jesus speaks over you heal like a liquid band aid. His words are life and they erase the lies. I felt as though I was living inside a Thomas Kinkaid painting when Jesus showed up and turned my world upside-down. He said something I will never forget, “My darling you are beautiful. I see no flaw in you. I want you to stop beating yourself up. You must learn to love yourself as I love you.” In a separate encounter but just as beautiful, I heard God whisper, “I named and made everything in this world: including you and proclaimed it all good.”
Names matter because people matter.