Tag Archives: beloved

What’s in a Name?

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Have you ever thought about your name? There is a lot of meaning and a lot communicated in a name. I have spent much of my life living in small towns – like really small. I had 75 students in my high school graduating class. My parents have lived next to the same neighbors for over 20 years. And in my small hometown of 2000 people, my last name communicates a lot. It connects me to others that have the same name. Whether you are proud or ashamed of your last name, whether your name carries positive or negative connotations, your name means something.

When you accept your identity as a child of God and become part of God’s family, you receive a new name. Now you bear God’s name and now you represent Him. What is that name? Many might say, “Christian” is your new name, except that Christian is rarely mentioned in Scripture. I believe God’s family name is actually “love”.

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1 John 4:7-17 says,

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Wow! Did you catch that? Through God’s ultimate expression of love – Jesus’ death on the cross, we can become children of God. If God is love, that means you are beloved! But we must love others in response to God’s great love for us. Bearing God’s name means representing God’s love in the world. Loving others is how God becomes real and “seen” in this world. You have experienced God’s love and grace, that is how you were adopted into His family as His child. Now it is your calling to share that same love with the world so that the world can see how real God’s love is.

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This is not as easy as it may sound. Loving others is risky business. There is no guarantee that others will love you back. And God knows this truth better than anyone. Loving others requires giving sacrificially of ourselves. Jesus sacrificed everything for us and bearing God’s name means being an example of Jesus to the world through sacrifice. When we love others well, we bring glory and honor to God’s name.

Christ is counting on you to live out your faith in this world. To do so effectively, we must count on Christ for the strength we need. What keeps you from sharing God’s love with others? What are some ways you’ve shared God’s love with others?

I like my eggs scrambled.

Like most girls, I’m a sucker for a great romantic comedy and growing up, the king and queen of romantic comedies were Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. It all started with Pretty Woman but there were several pairings that followed. One of my favorites is Runaway Bride (1999). Julia Roberts plays Maggie, a woman who has left three men at the alter and is now engaged to her fourth. Gere plays Ike, an op-ed columnist from New York City who loses his job after writing about “the runaway bride” without checking his facts. Ike travels to the small town where Maggie lives in an effort to redeem himself by doing the research he ought to have done in the first place. th Here’s your spoiler alert. In rather predictable fashion, Maggie leaves fiancé number four at the alter and falls in love with Ike. Through his research, Ike had noticed something interesting about Maggie. With each fiancé, she had different interests, different styles, and even ordered different eggs at the local diner – the same eggs ordered by each fiancé. When Maggie leaves him at the alter, he confronts her with this fact and she realizes that he is right – she does not know who she is! She doesn’t even know what kind of eggs she prefers! She has been unable to complete the walk down the aisle not because of the person she was walking towards, but because of her lack of knowing herself! Maggie does her own “research” and returns to Ike’s apartment in New York. She looks at Ike and says, “Benedict”. He replies, “Arnold?” And she says, “No, I love Eggs Benedict. I hate every other kind. I hate big weddings with everybody staring. I’d like to get married on a weekday while everybody’s at work. And when I ride off into the sunset, I want my own horse.” You can probably guess what happens next!

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How often I’ve been just like Maggie! Instead of being true to myself, to the identity God has given me, so often I have tried to be whatever I believed others wanted me to be. Maybe I didn’t really know myself. Maybe I was afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I really am. Regardless of the reason, I know that I was unhappy. Living life trying to be what I believed others wanted me to be left me confused, uncertain, and sad. Maggie couldn’t go through with a wedding because she knew that the person she would be marrying didn’t really know her. And at some level, she knew that she didn’t know herself either. She was not truly known. And that is where God steps in and meets us. He longs more than anything else for us to know Him in the same way that He knows us. And He knows us well because He created us! And because He created us in His image, the more we know Him, the more we know ourselves. It’s an amazing thing!! Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.” In our busyness, we lose sight of God and we lose sight of ourselves. God longs for us to be still, to calm down, and to accept ourselves in the same deep way that He accepts us. Claiming the identity God has given us cuts through the confusion, insecurity, and sadness of trying to be someone else.

Hi. My name is Karen. I’m an approval addict.

Well, at least I was. I like to think I’m in recovery now. My addiction began at an early age. As the story goes, as a toddler I would begin to cry if my parents even looked at me wrong. Whether two, or twenty-two, I desperately wanted my parents’ approval and accolades (along with everyone else’s). And I certainly didn’t want to disappoint them or anyone else either.

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If you are like me, at different points in your life, you’ve tried to find self-worth in a multitude of places, all of which left you wanting. Perhaps you tried accomplishment. If I just get straight As, then I’ll have worth as a person. (Until the next assignment.) Or if I make the basketball team or be voted homecoming queen, I’ll finally feel valuable. (Until the season ends and the crown is passed to another.) If I just get that promotion, teach another Sunday school class, or head up the PTA then I’ll finally feel ok. (Except it’s never enough to make the feeling last.) I’ll be the best mom and have the best kids. (Until they become teenagers and make decisions of their own.) Maybe you’ve tried to define yourself by accumulation. If I wear the right clothes, I’ll finally feel good about myself. (Until the trend changes.) The right car or the big house will make life feel complete. (Until you meet someone who has something bigger and better.) The right number of likes on Instagram or followers on Twitter will make me feel significant. (Except it doesn’t.) Or maybe you’ve looked to others to tell you that you matter. Maybe, like me, you’ve longed to hear others affirm your value with words like “great job” and “you’re the best!”

There are many problems with seeking self-worth in accolades, or what others say about you. For one thing, the words never last. You end up needing more and more to feel secure. Seeking the approval and praises of others truly becomes an addiction when you can never have enough. Secondly, it is unrealistic to think that others will always sing your praises. You’ll likely make a bad decision and get in trouble. You’ll do poorly on a school or work project and be spoken to by your teacher or boss. You’ll let an easy grounder go right through your legs and here your teammates and coaches groan. And no matter how hard you try, there will be that one person (if not more) that just doesn’t like you for apparently no reason at all. Seeking approval and fearing disappointment or anger of others can lead to boundary problems and an inability to say no or express your own opinion.

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And finally, what happens when someone spreads a nasty rumor about you? Defining yourself by what others say really doesn’t work when what others say isn’t positive or true. Unfortunately, I think most of people have had this happen. I know I certainly have. I broken friendship led to the other person spreading horrible and untrue rumors about my character among our other friends and community. Had this happened to me in high school (thankfully it did not), I would have been absolutely devastated and would not have known how to handle it. Thankfully, when it did occur, I had a better sense of self and wise advisors to guide me in how to respond, which largely meant not responding at all and allowing my actions and character to speak for me. Yes, I was hurt, but I was devastated like I would have been in the past.

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When we search for self-worth in accomplishment, accumulation, or accolades, we are often left with regret. We are left unsatisfied and longing for more. All we can focus on is all of the ways we aren’t enough and we give power to things and people that do not really deserve to have it – like the grade on that paper or a new gadget we’ve purchased or what some peer says about us. When end up feeling insecure and acting in selfish ways. That’s the problem. Future blogs are going to focus on the solution. But tell me, does this resonate with you? How do you define yourself? Where do you look to find self-worth? Accomplishments? Accumulation? Accolades? Regrets? And when you look in those places, what do you find? Are you satisfied or left longing for more?