Naming Names

Welcome back!  Glad you decided to come along for the adventure.  We’re still getting a bit of history going, but you will see the threads of God’s faithfulness stitched throughout.

I was adopted at birth.  Now, a lot of folks have been blessed to be adopted.  I love my own adoption story!  Partly because of the people involved, partly because the hand of the Lord was so obviously in it.  I know He created me.  But I firmly believe He had his hand on me in a special way from the get go.

My paternal great-grandmother worked at a dry cleaner, and there was a certain doctor who was a regular client.  They were friends, and one day he came in and told her that he had just taken a young woman from out of state as a patient.  She was ‘in the family way’ and wanted to find a good home to raise the child.  My parents met the couple, and arranged with the doctor and the attorney.  The proceedings were finalized a few days after my birth.

One of the most awesome parts of this story is my name.   Isaiah 49:1 b says:

The Lord called me from the womb; From the body of my mother He named my name.   (RSVCE)

My birth name was Joan (no middle name) Bradley.  My adoptive parents named me Sharon Elizabeth.  One day, just out of curiosity, I looked to see what all of my names meant.  I was in for a big surprise.  You see, Sharon and Bradley can have the identical meaning – “His fruitful plain”.   Joan and Elizabeth share an identical meaning – “gift from God”.   Sharon can also mean “His Song” .  I still get goosebumps just remembering how God truly named me and called me literally from the womb.

About 30 years ago, I was at church and a lady I didn’t know came over to talk to me.  She had overheard me talking to someone about being adopted, and ‘thought she could help me’.  She was quite certain that I suffered from a spirit of rejection, since my birth mother didn’t want me.  She was so insistent, that I finally let her pray for me just so she would go away.  But the truth is that I never felt rejected at all.  I felt incredibly loved and cared for – even by my birth mother.  You see, she could easily have had an abortion.  Or, she could have tried to keep me and confined me to a life that was far less than the one she gave me up to; but instead, she chose to give me to someone else who would love, nurture and provide for me in ways that she couldn’t.  How difficult that must have been!  What sacrificial love she showed!

If you’ve given a child up for adoption, and felt guilty, take that guilt to the Lord.  Thank Him for caring for your child in ways you couldn’t.  Thank Him for caring for you through the journey.   Even if you chose to end a pregnancy – had an abortion – take all of that to Him.   Let Him set you free from the guilt and pain you’ve been carrying.  In either case, I promise you will not find an angry, condemning God there.  He’s so gentle, and He loves you so much!

If you were a child given up for adoption and have struggled with feelings of being unwanted or rejected, take that to the Lord.  Let Him show you how incredibly loved you were then and still are today – by the woman who had the courage to give you to a better life, and by the Lord Himself.

By all means, if you need a little  help to get past these things, find a pastor, a counselor or someone who can help you work through it.  God made us to live in community, to be there for each other, to help carry one another’s burdens.  Don’t let the devil have one more minute of your life – it doesn’t belong to him.  He’s the one who tries to isolate you, to keep you alone with your secret guilt and shame.

Have you ever looked to see what your name means?  What did God plan for you to do?  And if your name is not a great one, remember Jabez in 1 Chronicles, chapter 4.  His name meant “sorrow”.  Jabez prayed that God would change his life course so that he did not live up to that name!  And God does change people’s names – Abram to Abraham; Jacob to Israel; Saul to Paul.  Ask Him what He wants from your life, and let Him name you accordingly.  Then let Him show you how to go out and fulfill your calling- live your adventure!

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