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Meeting the Need for a Name, Part One

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

How to Break Up with Your Anxious Life

What is your name?

Not the name your parents gave you, but the name that God gives you? When you are in distress, what name does God whisper to your soul that settles you, that says, “You are mine. You have a purpose. Your life matters. You’re going to be okay.”?

I want to assure you, whether or not you have heard it, God has a name for you. Naming is what he does.

Let me tell you how I got my name. It’s a bit of a long story, so sit back.

Years ago, I was a guest of my friend Elizabeth at a literary society luncheon, in a wealthy community where many women were able to live “well” without working. I had mentally prepared for a roomful of middle-aged, well-coiffed "ladies who lunch."

So, it surprised me when, halfway through our Cobb salad, the stranger to my left asked me, "So, are you a professional woman, too?"

I paused with my fork halfway to my mouth. I was not, at that time, a professional anything, but a volunteer church leader, a blogger, and a mother of two small children. I stammered out a rather inarticulate answer ... used to be a magazine editor/writer… lead a moms’ group at church ... still do a little freelance writing. I didn’t come off very well.

Reflecting on the conversation later that day, I wished I had said, "I didn’t know going pro was an option.” Or perhaps, “No, actually, I'm an amateur woman. I do this whole woman thing for free."

I was shaken up by not having a title. For a while, I was obsessed with the phrase “amateur woman,” and wanted to make that my title. Amateur comes the Latin root ama, and essentially means “in it for love” rather than for money. This affirmed me as a stay-at-home mom at the time, and a ministry leader that didn’t get paid. I like the idea that I can never go pro as a woman, as a mother, as a Christian. I will always, in some way be unskilled, and there is grace for an amateur.

This title didn’t really take off in my ministry – I even wrote a talk called An Amateur Woman, and my website was for twenty-four hours until I realized it was two characters away from a pornography site. (You can laugh. It’s okay). Not only could people not get over the negative connotations of being an amateur, the title didn’t work because it was a name I gave myself, trying to be okay with not making money.

Around this time, I went to a workshop with our then-senior pastor Kenton Beshore. He talked about how God called Gideon “mighty warrior” long before he was one. Kenton had heard God give him a name as a young pastor, a name that he clung to and grew into. And so, he led us through a time of intentional prayer, to ask God to give us each our name.

I heard, clear as day from God, “You are Bridgebuilder.”

A bridgebuilder connects people, heals divides, and connects communities. In the physical worlds, a bridgebuilder has to acknowledge the divide with accuracy. In the spiritual realm and in relationships, a bridgebuilder has to name the distance between one group and another between sickness and health, between slavery and freedom, between truth and lies. A bridgebuilder says, “Look there is a better place to go than where you are now, and I will make a path to get there.” I love this name. I continually ask God to please allow me to live into it.

I don’t have time to list all the miraculous ways that God has affirmed this name. But just before the pandemic, I wrote a five-week lesson plan to help introduce people in mainstream church to the healing methods of the Twelve Steps. I went on to produce it as a video series to use at my home church, and my pastor and friend Jack West named it. He said, without knowing the name I was clinging to, “I want you to call this The Bridge.’” It’s now on Right Now Media, and it’s the published work of which I’m most proud, because it helps people in the pews move to the circles of recovery where they can find freedom.

A still from Session One of The Bridge

The name Bridgebuilder is also precious to me because it speaks against names I have been called. Some family and community spaces have rejected me when I’ve named a reality, a sickness, or a place of bondage, even though my goal was to bring those things into the light for healing and reconciliation. I have been called difficult, crazy, over-sensitive, off-base, bitchy and too much. I’ve been called Ruin-er and Unloving. But God’s name for me overrides all such accusations. I am a sinner in need of grace. But God gets to name me – no one else.

“Bridgebuilder” also comforts me when I feel overwhelmed. Bridgebuilding into new realities – like changing family patterns from my parents’ generation to my kids, for example – can be frought with conflict and isolating at times. I get tired of standing in gaps. But God comforts me in those times by reminding me that what I’m doing with my life is not my idea: It was His.

Do you know what my mom and dad named me, literally? Beloved Dark One. Seriously. Amanda means “beloved.” My middle name, Maureen, means “dark one.” Though it probably means literally a dark-haired Irish girl, which I am, I’ve always read quite a lot into it. I’ve struggled with sin, with addiction and compulsive behavior, and with depression. There’s darkness in me. But Beloved wins out.

Beloved is your name too. You know that if you read the scriptures. If you love Christ, you are also called Chosen, Royal Priest, Conqueror, Child of God, and many more names of beauty and honor. Claim one of those for yourself this week, and speak it over yourself. Write it down every morning, “I am….” But also, will you pray for God to tell you the specific name he has for you? It’s more than a job title. It’s not a consolation prize (like amateur woman…). It’s His comforting assurance: You are His. Your life matters. You were made for a purpose. You are going to be okay.

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