Names. I hear a lot of them out on the morning road. Costa Ricans are a friendly bunch and blue skies inspire greetings. My favorite booms out from an elderly man working in his pasture, “¡Ay caramba, machita! ¿Como está?”
My goodness, little blondie, how are you?
With such a welcome, it would be hard not to call back the customary, “Very well, thank you. How are you?”
Amor (Love), Hija (Daughter), the formal Señora (Ma’am): local culture embraces endearments and nicknames. A cheery pineapple vendor once called my friend, “negrita.” It translates as little black girl, but also refers to the patron saint of the country, a stone representation of the mother of Christ. His intended meaning to the Caucasian matron was something like “dear, kind woman.”
Referring to someone by their ethnicity is also common here, as when a grandmother at church told me so-and-so’s wife is “la china”—the Chinese lady, although the term covers any Asian lineage. And while the movies of my youth gave me a negative slant of the word “gringo,” in Central America it just means people who aren’t Latinos. Europeans, North Americans, we all qualify without malice.
Names mean something. They speak value, or the lack of it. Taking the time to use a name ups the intensity. Whether it’s an encouragement of being known, or a parent hauling out the long form for fear factor, what’s written on your birth certificate is only the beginning.
What names define me? What names do you call yourself?
Some names are comfortable: wife, friend, sister.
Some labels we hesitate to claim, as if we might not deserve them: runner, writer, good mother.
Names have power, they evoke a response. Most likely, something happens inside you when you read the word Jesus or Trump.
Here in the tropics, this is insect paradise. Some visit us like blessings. We reach out to them and hope they draw close. We admire their colors, learn from them, and release their beauty forward. They inspire us.
Some bugs we stomp on sight, knowing their danger.
Names should be the same way.
In the states, you might feel a tiny tickle on your skin and give a look. Usually, nothing is there. In Costa Rica, something almost always is. At any given moment, a tiny ant crawls into view onto my book, my arm, my phone, even occasionally my eyeglasses. Yes, the ones on my face that I’m looking through. It’s crazy.
Without invitation, names crawl onto us, as well. Lazy, needy, too _________, or not enough _________. Everyone can fill in their own blanks. Those names never decide to crawl themselves back off. They have to be remedied and rubbed away.
The problem starts with names; the solution begins there, too.
Jesus was given the name above all names, authority over every name. He turns to each of us to ask, “As for you, who do you say I am?”
There are a variety of answers: good teacher, irrelevant, prophet, blasphemer, Son of God.
My response is Lord and Savior.
Some names are easy to brush off like those tiny ants. Others seem to take hold and burrow in. Almost every morning of my eighth grade year, one boy greeted me, “Hello, Ugly.” I tried to smile and make it something pretty. Inside of me, it never worked.
So I turn to Jesus and ask him in return, “As for you, who do you say that I am?”
There are a variety of answers: beloved, daughter, overcomer, chosen, cherished.
Many names, each one true. The ones he uses are the only ones that matter.
“to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.” Isaiah 56:5 NIV
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things [all those false names]; preserve my life according to your word [the true names you give me].” Psalm 119:37 NIV
Who do you say that Jesus is? And who does he say that you are? Share you names with us. We’d love to cheer you on.
Nametags Photo by chuttersnap & Flower Photo by Gaston Roulstone on Unsplash
And you deserve the name “Good Writer.” Thanks for your efforts at quality!
We love you, Charlie. Thank you so much for your encouragement.
I was called horrible names in school due to a birthmark. It caused a lot of low self esteem. I really should look up the names He calls me.
Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing, Denise. I call you brave and lovely. I know the Father has even better names for you, his beloved.
As someone from Central America, I know that the use of names, most of the time, are not mean. But yes, we tend to use them and probably abuse them.
I have come to accept and treasure a name, blessed. I know God has blessed me immensely and his love shows on all things.
Love your writing and looking forward to reading more from you.
Thank you so much for the perspective and encouragement. We love the people and culture here.
I agree with you that you are Blessed and look forward to hearing about all the Lord is working in and through you.
I love how you included the empty labels picture to represent your content. I love your writing style. You are amazing. Some names can be good and others bad. You can be loved or abused. We can’t stop each person for calling out names but we can show more love from our side and support each other. Thank you so much for this. 🙂
Thank you for your encouragement and feedback. I so appreciate it and am glad that you can see the themes in your life, too. Here’s to choosing the true names and dusting off the rest.
Good post Kris. Your point is applicable to anyone no matter where they are in the world.
Thank you, Gaman. It’s interesting to look at how names are used in different cultures, and yet still sort through to embrace the good and release the negative.
In Hawaii I was called Haole. Most of the time it meant someone white, or not Hawaiian, but sometimes it meant something different. It never bothered me. In Hawaii, I am a haole. I call myself a writer, a photographer, and a spiritual woman. I am magical. 🙂
That is a beautiful identity to live out of, Terry Ann. Thank you for sharing your experience and your names. Blessings on each one.
This was beautifully written!
I also call Him Lord and Savior. He calls me desired one.
My mother named me Desiree without knowing the meaning behind it.
I grew up feeling so undesirable by men, from my father to my brother, to the boys i crushed on.
but When I found Jesus He spoke to me and told me to look up my names meaning.
Desired one. one whom is desired. It makes me feel so good to know God has always desired me to be His!
I am right there with you, Desiree. I love your epiphany to the truth of who you are. Thank you for your sweet encouragement and transparency.
I love this! Often times the enemy whispers lies to my soul and i’s a wonderful idea to turn to Jesus and ask Him, “Who do you say I am?”.
Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate you sharing your own struggle. It’s brave and wonderful to ask the right one for the answers.