Welcome to Faith-Full Friday, friends! I’m so glad you’re back for another visit.
Do you mind if I start off with a few focus questions? (In my mind you answered, “No”).
Is a name really important? Does it say anything about who you are as a person? What is in a name?
Juliet asks this very question in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Are you familiar with it? I think it’s safe to assume that most have at least heard of the author and play. For those who are unfamiliar with the plot or need a reminder; however, in a nutshell, the play is about the forbidden love between Juliet (a Capulet) and Romeo (a Montague). Shakespeare never reveals why the Capulets and Montagues are sworn enemies or for how long they’ve been enemies, but Shakespeare does say that the families are constantly fighting.
At a Capulet masquerade party, Romeo and Juliet meet one another and fall in love instantly.
Spoiler Alert: Unfortunately, both die in the end, hence Shakespeare’s description of the two at the beginning of the play as “star-crossed lovers,” or lovers who are doomed.
Anyway, after the initial meeting and introductions, Juliet goes out onto her balcony and converses with herself in a long speech about the unfortunate situation:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
Unbeknownst to Juliet, Romeo is listening, and he responds:
I take thee at thy word.
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized.
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
Dreamy stuff, yes? Or are you just thinking, “Huh? What did they say?”
Translation: Juliet says, Romeo is not my enemy, only his name is. And really the name isn’t even an important part of a man. What’s the importance of a name anyway? Even if a rose was called something else, it would still smell sweet, and even if Romeo wasn’t a Montague, he would still be perfect Romeo. Romeo, forget your name, and take my love instead.
To which Romeo responds, I trust you! Love me, and I will be someone new. I will never be Romeo again.
So according to Juliet, names don’t contribute much of anything to a person. And Romeo must agree because he’s willing to get rid of his family name for a proclamation of love from Juliet.
As you already know from my Monday Mayhem post, my first name is Stephanie. What you don’t know, however, is that I was named after a little girl who lived near my parents when my dad was in the Navy and my older brother had just been born. My dad thought this Stephanie was the most beautiful little girl he had ever seen, and he wanted to name his daughter after her.
My middle name is Ann, and my mother’s middle name is Ann, so in addition to being named after a beautiful little girl named Stephanie, I was named after my mother.
My maiden name is Dyer. When I was in first grade (and probably all the other grades I have little to no memory of), some kids in my class made up a colorful song to go along with my last name.
(Warning: It’s something my 7 year old and 3 year old might be sent to their rooms for singing at the dinner table):
Sit on the pot,
And give it all you got
The song humiliated me and for many, many, many years made me hate my family name.
Fat, ugly, worthless, stupid, idiot, unloveable, impossible, dumb, and a slew of others too vile to type out are additional names I’ve been called and hated.
So eventually I married, and as you already know, became Stephanie Peace.
Seriously. I. Love. My. Last. Name. I can’t help it. It oozes “cool” and “awesome” and “rad” and “gnarly.” Ok, maybe not “gnarly,” but it’s a cool last name. I can wear peace sign rings and earrings and bracelets and necklaces. I can hang peace sign pictures and curtains and tapestries. I can carry a peace sign keychain and drink coffee out of a peace sign mug. Y’all I can wear my name on just about every part of my body! Eek! It. Is. Awesome. For real, I love throwing up a peace sign and saying, “Peace out!” when I exit a room.
So maybe Juliet is at least a little bit wrong because a name can definitely have some significance (like Stephanie Ann Peace does for me and my family), but maybe she is also a little bit right because a name doesn’t reveal our hearts (like Montague doesn’t reveal Romeo’s capacity for love)?
Almost 13 years ago, I actually had a different last name. It wasn’t Dyer and it wasn’t Peace. It was the last name of my first husband.
One late night almost thirteen years ago, I decided NO MORE! I left in my pajamas with my purse; my car keys; my dog, Chelsey; and a conviction that I really could be free of the emotional and physical abuse.
One night almost thirteen years ago, I was bold and I was brave, and I finally put my faith in something far greater than myself, convinced that I was worth more than the names and the threats and the violence.
A few weeks later, as I sat on the stoop outside my father’s house, scared, ashamed, no longer feeling bold and brave, broken, sobbing, I prayed:
Please, God, just give me peace. All I want is peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Fast forward a year and a half later to the first time I met David Peace….
Gives me goosebumps every single time.
I close my eyes sometimes and go back to that place because that, my friends, is a Jesus story, a testament to the power of the one whose name is, well, everything….
Jesus is Creator.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17, New International Version)
Jesus is Protector.
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3, NIV)
Jesus is Provider.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NIV)
Jesus is Deliverer.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
Jesus is Healer.
“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.” (Matthew 15:30, NIV)
Jesus is Redeemer.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV)
Jesus is, He is, He is!
Almost thirteen years ago I prayed a prayer in Jesus’ name and because of who He is, He answered that prayer (rather literally, too).
A lot of “stuff” can be in a name, friends, but it’s the name behind our names that matters most.
Jesus. Come on. Say it out loud. Jesus. There really is no other name like Jesus.
Will you pray with me, friends?
Thank you for creating us. Thank you for all the times you protected us, provided for us, delivered us, healed us, and redeemed us. Let us always remember that You are what matters most.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Happy Faith-Full Friday, friends! I hope you enjoyed your first devotional experience. Come on back for Monday Mayhem and meet one of my most treasured friends, Jamie!
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.