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Naming is powerful.


Eric and I got to officiate a wedding. It was an intimate and meaningful celebration. One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was the opportunity to watch their faces as they were “named” by their attendants. We asked each member of the bridal party to write three words that described them. Then we got to read the list of affirmations and watch those truths speak to their hearts.: delightful, genuine, adventurous, dynamic, creative, deep well, kind hearted, courageous, disciplined. The bride and groom were warmed, moved and strengthened by these truths.


Naming is powerful.


Unfortunately it can work both ways. Stupid, mean, not good enough, ugly, uncoordinated. Somehow we seem to listen and give more power to those words than we do the words that reflect our true identity. Research shows it takes at least five positive statements to balance one negative.


So how do we discern the truth of the names we accept into our hearts as true? We need to ask the One who created us.


This sounds difficult and perhaps out of the box for some people. But for myself when I pause and wait for a word to come to my mind, it does come. It actually surprises me but it resonates and has power that sticks for me.


For example, I have known that my name, Anne, means giver of grace. I have sensed God tell me, and through the voice of my community, giver of grace is part of my identity. As I have been working through integrating my identity I was asking what I needed to know about grace? I heard that I need to receive it. I can easily give grace to others but I am not great at giving it to myself. We all know we are our own harshest critics and that we need to be kind to ourselves. But when God said I was a giver and receiver of grace, it hit me in a more powerful way.


Create some space to listen. What Name is God calling you? If you are silent and listen, is there a word that comes? Or is there another time you have heard His voice and need to remember it?


  • “He calls his sheep by name and leads them out’ (John 10:3b)


  • It is often helpful to write a list of names you call yourself and then ask Him if they are true. Then write down what He calls you. The contrast is often striking and life giving.


  • Remember, His voice is always kind. If you are hearing negative or shaming words, they are not from God


God’s naming is life giving naming. It is about who we are. It is not about what you do. This is your identity, It has already been given to you. As we become more integrated in our identity more and more of life falls into place.


-Anne Lider


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