Your Name Here

Recently my parents gave me a stack of cassette tapes from my childhood, a number of which are recordings of me as a very engaged two year old in Costa Rica where they were learning Spanish for further assignment in Honduras. More recently, I listened to one of them, and was deeply struck by one of the recorded interactions with my mother.

I was making up a tune and some nonsense words, and my mother said, “Are you going to be a composer and a poet when you grow up?”

“No,” I said, in my unusually low child’s voice.

“What are you going to be?” she asked.

“Jennifer,” I declared emphatically.

I kind of gasped when I heard this. My first thought was, Whatever happened to that confident child? But my second one was, Turns out, she was right. My generation is loaded with Jennifers and Jennifer could mean something entirely different when describing each one of them, of course. Even still, now at approximately half a century and after decades of floundering to find my place and myself in the world, I can say with certainty and confidence that I have become (and, to be sure, am still becoming) Jennifer. I am decidedly me. I’m convinced this has to something to do with, as my friend Pastor Trey recently put it, “chasing after God” my whole life. I don’t think I would’ve found out who I am as assuredly, apart from finding out more and more who He is.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about identity lately, and even more specifically about what the Christianese phrase, identity in Christ, means. Finding identity through connection to Jesus became the theme of Winter Solace ’23. It’s the theme of the Follower book. And it keeps on coming up, over and over again, as I meet with people who tell me, “I don’t think I know who I am.”

My hope for you is that, if not now, someday when someone asks you, “Who are you?” or “What are you going to be?” your answer will be confidently and delightedly your own name. And you would know just what that means. And you would live so fully in your God-given identity that everyone around you would find out your meaning–and ultimately their meaning–too.

A doodle in some college notes, reminiscent of a poster of my name I made in marker to hang up in my locker in middle school.

Published by Jennwith2ns

Jesus person. Wife and step-mom. Daughter, sister, auntie, friend. Collector of stories: mine, yours, tangible, not... Pastor of Central Baptist Church, founder and spiritual director at The Pilgrimage, and author of Trees In The Pavement and Favored One.

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