Have you ever noticed how a season of loss has the ability to paint in Technicolor features of your life which had previously gone by unheeded? Loss often creates beauty where previously we only saw monochromatic monotony.
I recently had the opportunity to experience how cancer and the accompanying fun of chemotherapy is a generous giver of such gifts. Chemo does funny things to your brain that you don’t often hear about ahead of time. Yes, your hair falls out and you get rather friendlier with your bathroom than your food, but what about losing your words? What’s up with that?
Through the chemically induced fog of so-called “chemo-brain”, I could no longer easily name people, places, events, or knowledge I had accumulated over the course of my entire life. The loss of this ability to name my reality rightly made a rainbow in the raindrops of suffering as it revealed in full-color the importance of naming in the reality of God’s creation.
To discover the importance of naming, we need only begin at the beginning. In Genesis 1, all things were brought into existence by God through His Word and then He then daily named His creation. By doing so, God revealed our reality to us and helped us to understand His work. He then defined this work as “good” by naming it so.
From the very beginning of existence, naming has defined, identified and acknowledged the reality of every created thing.
Scripture also reveals this to be true at a personhood level. Man’s first order of business (after breathing) was to name the creatures and so discover the truth about himself that mankind wasn’t yet complete. When the first woman came into existence, she was named who she would become: Eve, “Mother of all Living”. So we discover that God uses naming to reveal who we will be. Through the lives of people like Abraham and Paul we learn that God uses naming to show His covenant realities in individuals’ lives and reveal new purposes they will fulfill in the world.
This creation of reality, identity and truth through naming has continued throughout history. The briefest of surveys of our Bibles tells us that when we are identified as Christ’s and given His name at our baptisms, we are named called of God, redeemed, sons, heirs, known by God, brethren, one in Christ, free, at liberty, in the light, children of light, complete in Him, healed, chosen, holy, righteous, special, under mercy, friends, precious in His sight, and more.
God uses naming to help us understand ourselves and our needs, reveal to us our identity, and give us both knowledge and assurance of who we are and who we will be.
The beauty of this reality is that by naming ourselves in the same way that God names us, we are freed to discover all those things that will enable us to thrive. As we live out our identity as Christian women in a fallen world, the only way to experience the bountiful life He intends and has designed for us is to define our reality and our identity by what is really true.
Joy, peace, rest, security, fellowship, intimacy, productiveness, value, hope, and, yes, even happiness all come as we learn to name our lives, marriages, relationships, and purpose in the way God names us.
We can live fully in freedom and joy only insofar as we fully absorb and live out those names that teach us how we are seen and understood by our Creator and Redeemer according to Scripture.
The temptation which so often causes us to stumble, though, is to name ourselves by different names – names we had in our old man, names we are given by the unsaved culture around us, names we accept when we listen to the great deceiver. When we adopt these names, we are making God a liar and that means the truth is not in us (I John 1:8-10). We put on identities and glasses through which we see our lives and the world that are not true, not real, not who God called us to be when He brought us out of sin and death to the glorious life of light in His Son (John 8:12; I John 5:11).
This is why I want to challenge all of us as Christian women to be especially careful about how we name ourselves, our lives and our communities. To stop and consider if the names we use, aloud or in our heads, are the same as the names God uses. Do they accurately reflect reality and truth as He sets it forth?
God’s reality is beauty, freedom, light and life. It is joy in Technicolor.
Can you name the colors of the rainbow in your reality? Join me in the second half of this post next week as we discuss what stumbling blocks and stepping stones look like in our journey to find our words and name our stories.