“When God names something, He reveals something about its nature or its purpose.” Many apologies to Beth Moore, because I’m sure I didn’t quote her properly. It has been several years since I first read those words, but every now and again they come back to haunt me.
Okay, so maybe it’s more along the lines of a kick in the shins with steel toe-caps, a good smack on the back of the head and a “You forgot again, didn’t you?”
It’s really not my fault, though. Replace “name” with “title” or “label” (which are really all about the same anyway) and I understand why I so easily forget. I am completely schizophrenic.
Let me explain.
Professionally, I am a financial analyst. I am capable, reliable, thorough, hard-working, conscientious – good grief I can’t tell if I’m a Girl Scout or a Labrador! To my friends, I’m fun, loyal, sweet (that from the people who don’t know me very well), encouraging, generous, goofy (that from the people who perhaps know me a little too well). To my family – well, I’ll skip that for now – but you get my point, don’t you? That’s a lot of people for me to keep straight all at once. And when you add the labels I give myself . . . .
Almost a year ago, I went on a kind of retreat to Santa Fe. Armed with little more than my guitar, a sketchbook, my camera and my laptop, I tried to find out if any of the labels I had given myself during my sojourn in the cave were authentically mine? Would they still be true when viewed in sunlight? And what would it mean if they did?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was quite a risk.
Searching for truth, there is always the possibility that you will discover that you’re wrong. What do you do then? Rub your backside where you got kicked in the assumptions and realign yourself with True North? Start declaring that the world is flat or the sky is falling and try to invent whatever reality will conform to the illusion you’ve woven for yourself? Or do you curl up in the fetal position in the farthest corner of your cave and try to tell yourself that it doesn’t matter, that you didn’t like that perspective anyway and no one else cares what your truth is, so what harm is there?
Happily for me, I learned that I have been True Named. Musician. Artist. Poet. Writer. And my truth gained strength when held to the sunlight. And it was good. And I was content. And I leaned back against the wall of my cave and felt smugly vindicated.
The funny thing about light, though, is that shadows often go along for the ride. I found other labels lurking in the crevices, less joyous ones that were no less authentically mine.
Co-opted. Complacent. Compromised.
Juggling a steady paying gig with a calling isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Let’s face it, “creative” and “finance” are not two words most people like to see next to each other, regardless of the context and yet I believe that my labels, the authentic ones, show me a path that I’m to follow. At the very least they suggest dangerous waters that I should avoid. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done a very good job of either and my calling had suffered for it. I had given only scraps of time and attention to my giftedness while devoting far more energy to other activities that really wouldn’t pay off in the long run.
It’s easy to retreat to the cave. There are no expectations. No one cares one way or the other because no one sees. No one is waiting to find out what I’ll do next or even if I’ll do next. It’s easy to let the labels other people give me define who I am, what I am and what’s important to me. The harder path is to find out what I’m really supposed to be doing with the time I have on this wonderful blue orb.
And so I find myself considering the questions again: “What does God call me? What is my purpose or nature?” And even more important “Am I willing to hear the truth again?”
What about you? What labels do you were easily? Which ones aren’t as comfortable? Which ones would you change if you could?