What’s in a name?

I have been married for almost 29 years, and in a way, I will be celebrating my 29th birthday in November. Twenty-nine years ago I changed my last name.

A lot of women change their last name when they get married, but I sometimes feel like I am not like most women. I didn’t want to change my last name. I wanted to keep it because it was who I was— it was “me” and I knew all about “Teresa Watson.”

I told my new husband that I wanted to keep my last name, but he insisted that I take his name. I didn’t like the idea so I suggested that I use a hyphenated name—this way I could still retain my personal identity— I would still be “me.”

Again, he strongly insisted that I take his name and leave my maiden name behind. I was very upset. I felt very much like a captive at that point— living someplace unfamiliar to me (Florida instead of California) and then having my name changed.

In a way, I can understand how Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah must have felt. Not only were they brought to Babylon, but their names were changed: “The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego” (Daniel 1:7).

I was in unfamiliar territory, both physically and mentally. Mentally, I had no idea who “Teresa Trascritti” was.

In addition to the new name and new location, I was also a new Christian. Again, I think about how names were changed in the Bible, but in the light of Christ, the name changes were positive, not negative. In John 1:42 it says, “Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).”

In the book of Genesis God changes the name of Abraham and Sarah: “I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham… God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah”” (Gen 17:5 &15, NLT).

I used to see my “forced” name change and relocation as something terrible, but now I realize that God had to rebuild me. My previous form was damaged and corrupted, but because of Christ I became a new being so it was fitting to have a new name— a new identity. In a way, I was being rebooted by God.

It has been almost 29 years since I have had my new name. I have learned so much during that time. God has formed me into the person I am today—someone who I hope is supportive of her husband, loving to her family, and appreciative to her God.

I really don’t miss the “old Teresa” anymore; in fact, I like the new one much better—“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [she] is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (1 Cor 5:17, NKJV).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

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