“No one gets to name you,” he leaned in and whispered. I let out a short laugh, but not the joyful kind. All of my life I’ve been named.

My middle name, Nicole, was picked by a doctor in the middle of a delivery room. Douglas, my last name, was chosen by my orphaned grandfather for reasons I’ll never know.

Birdie, my family’s nickname for me, is the one that makes me feel most known.

Sensitive.
Average.
Too much like my dad.
These are some of the names I would like to forget.

When I was younger, my mother used to tell me with a gentle smile that my name meant “wise river”.  But is a river really wise if it can’t understand its own depth?

Like how I have such terrible anxiety when it comes to dealing with conflict that I freeze up or ignore people far too often…even when they try to fix it. Or how I always seem to break things, just because I don’t handle anything with enough care. Then there are the things I’ve quit even though I was good at them, simply because I like to feel the challenge of something new. And now here I sit wondering if I’ll ever stick to one thing I’m really passionate about for good.

There were years I tried to define myself through a megaphone, and other years when I hid as much of myself as I could. I believed that anything I tried was better than being named someone or something I wasn’t. I ran and I protected and I fought to be known. I flailed and I sank, all for the chance to say, “THIS is who I am.”

I may not always understand the currents running through my veins, or even consider them wise, but there are some truths about myself I have come to know are just for me and for no one else.

I won’t apologize for feeling too much or loving too deeply in a world that strangles our emotions. I won’t neglect an opportunity to say, “I’m with you,” when I’ve known far too well the shout of, “you’re on your own”. I won’t close off the ache from a fallen world that groans within, but I will embrace the Eden that is to come. I won’t be embarrassed by my tears at hearing an unkind word, for those words are a deep brokenness in disguise. I will not be held to a Proverbs 31 standard, but to the words and actions of Jesus Christ. For a Proverbs 31 woman is no one unless she is aiming to be more like her Maker. And I will not be more concerned with the personal lives of others than I am with being personal.

I long for the day the world names me wife, daughter, and mother. I ache to be called beloved, one-you-can’t-live-without, encourager, and dependable friend. And until then, I struggle to forget all the rest that made me question… me. Because in a world where not enough kind words are spoken, we can choose to speak kindly to ourselves. Remember who you’ve been called to be from the One who matters most, and decide that no one else gets to name you anything that doesn’t coincide.

Shannon Douglas

Born and raised in Southern California, Shannon is now the Communications Director for South Hills Church. She enjoys storytelling, styling events, strategizing for organizations, and going to Disneyland. Read more about Shannon in the "Our Team" section of She Has Worth.

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