Every time I go to write this blog post all I can hear in my head is a song by the Ting Tings that came out a few years back – and no I had never heard of them either until I looked up their name to write it here. I mean, I knew their song, but not their band name. Got me? The song had a catchy – if not obnoxious – beat and the chorus went a little something like this, “They call me girl, they call me Stacey, they call me her, they call me Jane. That’s not my name. That’s not my name. That’s not my name. That’s not my name.” If my rendition of the song still isn’t ringing any bells for you, perhaps you should just listen here. If you are of my parent’s generation, don’t worry, I can already assure you that you don’t know it. You haven’t missed much.
At one of my jobs here they call me Georgia. No, it’s not my name, but I don’t get quite as hostile about it as the Ting Tings seem to in their song. I like the name Georgia and all that it entails. Y’all know how much I love the state of Georgia, so how could I not like being called Georgia? I was first given the name “Georgia” several years ago when I moved to Colorado to work on a dude ranch. I was the last girl to arrive at the ranch where I was working for the summer and there was already another Katie there. Our manager suggested calling us by our last names. At that point in time, “Murray” was my little brother’s name on the football field. In no way, shape, form, or fashion did the idea of having the name “Murray” shouted at me from across the ranch all summer appeal to me. Too footballish. Too masculine sounding. Some of the cowboys had already started calling me “Georgia Girl” or “Georgia Peach” mainly because they were too lazy to remember my real name and based on my thick southern drawl, it was impossible for them not to remember every time I opened my mouth that I was from Georgia. Since, that was what half the people at the ranch knew me as already, we decided to go with “Georgia” instead of the abhorred male jock name of “Murray.” And it stuck. To this day, if I run across anyone from that ranch, my name is not Katie. It is Georgia. And I love it.
I ran into the same problem recently at the restaurant here where I work. Three girls named Katie already worked there when I was hired. I quickly suggested they just call me Georgia instead of adding to the confusion. Now, again, everyone in that restaurant knows me only as Georgia. Last night at work, I was introducing myself to one of my tables and I said “Hi, my name is Georgia and I’ll be taking care of y’all tonight.” The lady repeated my name back to me, “Zhorzha?” and it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. As if I were classy enough to be called “Zhorzha.” Nor do I look Russian or exotic enough for a name like that. I restrained sarcasm and jokes at my own expense and replied, “No. Georgia. Like the state. You know the little backwoods state just south of North Carolina (that I love so dearly might I add). That’s my name.”
I’ve struggled this week with names that I am called, not as an identifier like “Katie” or “Georgia,” but as an identity definer. Names as a definition of who I am. Names that I call myself. Names that others call me and I believe to be true about me. Many times this week I have felt like my name was Defeated. Broken. Unworthy. Worthless. Failure. Unvalued. Not Good Enough. Insecure. Those have been the names that I have identified myself with this week. That is who the world sometimes says I am. That is who I sometimes say I am.
But God calls me by a different name. He identifies me differently than the world, than myself. He calls me Child of the One True King. Redeemed. Renewed. Remade. A New Creation. Free. No Longer a Slave. No Longer Defeated. Child of God. Chosen by God. Adopted. Cherished. Highly Valued. Healed.
He calls me His. There is no other name I need.
Better yet, I not only know the One who calls me by name, but I know His name as well. Faithful. Love. I AM. Sovereign. Gracious. Compassionate. Just. Justifier. Redeemer. Holy. Worthy. Healer. Good. Hope. Peace.
When I look around and wonder what the world is calling me today, all I need to know is who He says I am.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1b