George, a new farmer in town, had so many children he ran out of names for them. So he started calling his kids after common things around his farm.
On the first day of school, the teacher asked each child in the class to say his or her name. When the teacher got to one of farmer George’s sons, the boy replied, “My name is Wagon Wheel.”
The teacher laughed and said, “Now come on now – I need your real name.”
“It’s Wagon Wheel, Sir,” the boy said. “That’s the honest truth.”
The teacher, rather annoyed, replied, “All right, then, young man. You take yourself right down to the Principal’s office this minute. I’ll deal with you later.”
At that, young Wagon Wheel pushed himself out of his chair, punched his sister on the arm and said, “C’mon, Chicken Feed. He ain’t gonna believe you, either!”
The names we call ourselves mean something. Maybe your mama got yours from another family member. Maybe there’s a story behind your name.
My name – as my mom tells the story – came from TV personality Art Linkletter’s daughter, Dawn. And then again, Mom and Dad lived above an Italian lady at the time I was born. Grandma said Mom was thinking “Donna Maria,” but that didn’t go well with my German-sounding maiden name. It ended up being Dawn Marie.
Have you noticed – we call ourselves names all our lives: “Smartie,” “Stupid,” “Fatso,” “Twiggy,” “Party Girl, “Wall Flower.”
Since the explosion of the Internet, blogs, Twitter and Facebook, my go-to name for myself has been “Techno-Blonde.” I’ve used the name to draw laughter when I speak, poking fun at my ineptness with technologies of all sorts.
And then a friend drew me up short one day.
“Why do you say that?” she asked, and she explained how defeating the term sounds.
The more I thought about it, the clearer I saw her point. As long as I called myself “techno-blonde,” I had no motivation to change, no incentive to learn the very skills I need in the computer age.
So I stopped using the term. (OK, I slipped a couple of times at first.) Instead, I thought of myself as “in training.”
And you know what? I started learning how to do the very things I thought I could never do. I recently even surprised myself by figuring out how to make a video for YouTube. (Yes, most of you have likely done that for years, but I celebrated when I clicked the video publish button!)
The point is … when we stop calling ourselves names, we give ourselves permission to change.
The scripture the Lord used to encourage me in this transformation was Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” I had applied that verse to loving and encouraging others; why not myself?
I gave myself the same grace to make mistakes, learn and change that I gave others. I stopped beating myself up and breathed a sigh of relief. It was OK to be human. I didn’t have to know how to do everything, just because my friends did. I didn’t have to impress people with my “know how.” I realized that God, my audience of One, is also my sufficiency. He will help me learn whatever is necessary for effective ministry.
How about you? What names are you calling yourself – stunting the growth and transformation God desires for you?