Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Label Me This

I hate name tags. I cringe every time I show up somewhere and there's name tags involved. I went to a family reunion for Mr. Awesome's family this summer and everyone was required to wear name tags. I almost left.

The disdained for name tags is irrational but most people I know feel the same way. I don't know one person who walks into a conference or meeting and says, "Yay! Name tags! I love wearing name tags!" I'm not sure what the issue is really. Its our name. Its what people call us. Its what distinguishes us from others in a crowd. Its just a name, no big deal, right?

But what if the name we've been called, the thing that distinguishes us from the crowd, the label we wear is negative, hurtful or weak? What if the all the words we wrap ourselves in tell a story of someone who is a failure and a fraud? What if the words that we use to describe ourselves include terms like 'worthless' 'selfish' 'stupid' and 'inadequate'? Worse yet, what if those are the words that other people use to describe us?

When I was about 10 years old I remember going to a book store with my mom. As she browsed around the store, I loitered by the bookmarks. I already had a pretty sizable collection of bookmarks but I was always on the prowl for pretty or witty ones to add to my Super Secret Hiding Place of All Things Mine. While I was looking through the racks filled with cat, rainbow and waterfall bookmarks I came across a whole section of ones with names and their meanings. And there was one with my name on it ... with the correct spelling (I have rouge 'h' in my name that has been the bane of my existence my whole life!). I didn't even take the time to read the meaning ... I snatched up the bookmark, ran to my mom and pleaded with her to buy it for me. And she did.

In the car on the way home I caressed the little bag that held the one item I had ever seen with my right name on it. I couldn't wait to add it to my collection, to show all the Jennifers and Taras that my name really is real. I was finally validated!

Once we got home I made a beeline to my Super Secret Hiding Place of All Things Mine (aka the hall storage closet), pulled my new precious bookmark out of the bag and really read it for the first time.

"Victorious One"


That's what my name meant? Victorious? I knew that victorious was connected to the word victory but just to be sure I pulled my dictionary (yes, I was 10 and I kept my own dictionary in my Super Secret Hiding Place because it was sacred to me ... as sacred as my smelly sticker collection, my mini popple and my favourite giant pen with four different ink colours) out and looked up the word victorious.

Having won a victory, having overcome a struggle or hardship.

My name means 'winner'? But kids at school call me a loser. My cousins call me a crybaby. That teacher says I'm lazy. That grown up says I'm moody. Liar. Weak. Stupid. Fat. Slow. Uncool. Whiny. Selfish. Loser. Loser. Loser.

Something clicked inside me that day. Some truth found my wee heart. The truth that even though people may say mean things about me, they may use negative words to define me, my very name calls me a winner. I'm not saying that insults and rudeness never again affected me, but when those things came my way I reminded myself that the truth of my name IS the truth of my life. I am Victorious.

Wat is the truth about who you are? No, think past the names you've been called, the failures you've experienced and the hurts you bear. Think about the truth of who you are.

You are victorious. You are strong. You are good. You are kind. You have value. You matter.

That's the truth. That's you're name. Precious. Beautiful. Capable. Gifted.


Words have meaning and names have power.  ~Author Unknown

No comments: