Your Secret Name

 Political pundit Stephen Colbert was recently interviewed as himself, not as the character he plays on “The Colbert Report.”  Candid and witty, he talked about how each of us has a “secret name:”

            I like the idea that you have a secret name…and that’s a name that no one can ever really pronounce because it’s who you are…There’s a magic to your secret name.

When he was ten years old, Colbert tragically lost his father and two teenage brothers in an airplane crash in Charlotte, North Carolina.  As he struggled to grieve and process the tragedy, Colbert said that he thought this loss was his “secret name.”  In other words, he believed that this loss defined who he was, and because of that, it took a number of years to heal.

What’s your “secret name?”  What is it that defines who you are, the essence of which can’t be pronounced by anyone else? 

If you haven’t already recognized it, there is a power to your “secret name,” and it can help you or hurt you, depending on how you define yourself.  Many people define themselves based on externals, such as homes, cars, clothing, and jobs, but the problem is that externals are prone to change and never really provide the assurance of worthiness and specialness that we all seek.  If you choose a “secret name” with a negative connotation, as Colbert did for a number of years, it can weigh you down and keep you from living life joyfully.

Regardless of the name we choose, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have already called us their own, including us in their relationship of love and laughter.  Our quandary is that we don’t accept our status in their relationship, but believe instead that we must prove our love and devotion to be worthy of being children of the Triune God.  Even the ancient tribe of Judah, with its history of mistakes and missteps, was given assurance of their inclusion by God through a prophecy of Isaiah:

            As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear (Is 66:22 NLT).

The way we define ourselves is important and can affect the way we live our lives.  Our “secret name” tells us who we really are and to whom we belong.  Recently, I found a website that promotes a test you can take to determine your “secret name,” along with a “secret name” for God.  The test begins by identifying your “given name,” or the adjective that describes your most negative viewpoint of yourself.  The test then gives you a “secret name” and moves to a suggested scripture reading that offers a positive viewpoint.  After providing your “true identity,” it gives a secret name for God, a reassurance of God’s character and love that corresponds to the need you indicated when you provided your “given name.”

While this website and “secret name” test are designed to promote a book, I think that there is value in recognizing that the names we give ourselves are probably not the names God would give to us.  We struggle to believe that we’re worthy of such a name, because the name the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit give each of us is a name full of beauty and magic and wonder, a name no one can pronounce because it sums up exactly who you are…

             ~by Nan Kuhlman

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