On the day a child is born, parents give their bundle of joy a name. This name is pondered, researched, and possibly fought over. The name Leah Heleena means a lot to me. Leah is the name of my mom’s childhood friend, the type of friend you hide in the attic for a week without your parents knowing. “Heleena” was the name of my Great Grandmother’s Grandmother. This name was exclaimed as I was found playing in the mud in my Sunday best. While this name was often used to grab my attention, my sisters and I shared names that implied all the love and affection we couldn’t comprehend until we had children of our own. As my Nana lived her last days on this earth she had few moments of lucidity. During one of them, she looked at me, put her hand on my face, and said “you’re my Leah”.
Halfway through my Forties, I’m realizing why these names are so important. Each name brings its own sense of belonging. Nieces, nephews, and kids of friends call me Aunt Leah, Aunt Weela, and even Quesadilla. I’m filled with humility when my buddy Ryan calls me “Coach”. The implication that I have provided encouragement or guidance to warrant that name fills me with gratitude. Three plus years after my last day working at Covenant and my work-study students still call me “Boss”. Except for Jay who continues to call me Mrs. Jones and I continue to find it endearing.
Mommy is the name while I loved, I often wanted to change during the years it was spoken multiple times each minute of every day. When Mommy transitioned to Mom, I realized my kids were growing up way too fast and I was thankful they still had needs I could meet. When these three call me “Mom” (or “Momma” for Eliot) responsibility is coupled with empowerment by the sense of confidence it seems to convey. They have confidence they will find security, acceptance, and their own unconditional belonging.
As I dial into who I am, the names Andy calls me are at my very core. I won’t risk turning my readers bilious by providing a list. I’ll just say, they mean different things oscillating from a casual “Hey Babe” to decades of love and commitment expressed in “Baby Doll”. There are times these names are super familiar and information being relayed is very mundane. Other times the level of dedication being expressed settles me. It reminds me how I belong.
What we all want most is to be known so we may find our place to belong. I’m blessed by all of you who continue to take the time to know me. However, as wonderful as the names described above make me feel, as much purpose as they give me, they cannot provide everlasting hope. The fulfillment they give lacks peace without the reality of true belonging given by the Lord when he calls me child, sister…friend. My name is written on the hands and in the heart of his beautiful Son. I am nothing without the most powerful name given to me when Jesus called me “Redeemed”.