When I was a little girl, I’d “try on” friends’ names and imagine what life would be like if I ‘d been them. If I’d been named Jill, I’d be popular and funny and maybe just a bit crazy-in-a-good-way too. If I’d been named Claire I’d be athletic and powerful and a leader. If I’d been named Kay I’d have perfect hair and perfect grades and perfect just about everything else too.
That’s the way a child’s mind works.
As outsiders, we look at other lives and think, if only I could be more like them…! But as we grow older and more mature and hopefully a little wiser, we realize that no one’s life is perfect.
We realize we all struggle and are challenged in some way, and it’s in how we deal with those challenges that differences arise. We realize that there may be several right ways to meet a challenge just as there are several wrong ways. We also realize that among those several right ways some will take a longer, more leisurely path than another, more direct route.
Whatever challenge we face, whatever path we take to work through our challenge, we emerge changed. When life throws curve balls, we get up a little smarter. We are not the same person we were when we stepped up to the plate for the first time.
We are changed. We recognize some changes are life altering and others are barely noticeable, but we are seldom the same person that we were before the challenge took place.
For me, my husband’s leaving me suddenly during the fifth month of pregnancy with our fifth little boy was so completely life altering, that I was truly no longer the same person. I tried to figure out what name fit me now and what I could do to remake myself into the person I really wanted to be. I couldn’t go back to being the naive girl who married him, but I was certainly not “the Mrs.” anymore either.
I needed to redefine myself. Who was I now? Who was I going to be?
My German Grandmother faced extreme hardships, far worse than mine, but I always remember her smiling. She could light up a room and make all feel welcome.
That’s who I wanted to be. I wanted to smile and spread genuine Joy. I wanted to make people feel and dream and Hope again. I wanted to smile and help others smile too.
The Bible shows us how God fundamentally transforms His children so they emerge molded by the fires of hardship rather than scarred hideously. There is no hideousness in God’s creation, only beauty, and I wanted that beauty to affect me so I could affect others through Him too.
In the Bible, God so transforms His followers that even their names no longer suit them, even their names are no longer theirs.
That’s what I felt as I typed “Smiling” into Google translate and it spit back the word “Strahlen” – German for Smiling. I was no longer who I had been. I could be better! I could smile and mean it day in and day out.
Strahlen – I smiled loving the sound…STRAY-lin. It fit.
This was who I was. I was Strahlen. Ironically, I’ve since heard Strahlen is not the German word for smiling, but I no longer care. No, I don’t know where Strahlen comes from or what it means to others, but it suits me, and I believe God has renamed me, just as He has remade me.
I have been born again in Him. I have been made new in Christ.
I am Strahlen.
Who are you?
Who do you want to be?
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
Name someone in the Bible who underwent a name change.
You are not the same person today you were x years ago. If you were renamed today, what name would suit you and why?