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Claiming your name

Somewhere in the middle of running the San Antonio half-marathon a few years ago, I heard a spectator call out my name. Years later, I remember this moment much more clearly than the moment when I crossed the finish line, as it came during a stretch when I was feeling the worst. He said, “Go, Dianne! Good job, Dianne! You can do it!” Just a second before this happened, a gnat flew into my eye. One eye closed and tearing, hands furiously rubbing at my face, I couldn’t see and I didn’t recognize the voice. I still have no idea who it was that called out to me that day as I stumbled past. I wonder if it was just a kindhearted person, who saw my name next to the number pinned to my front. Regardless, that day, having someone cheer me on, by my name, lifted my spirit. It made me feel like I was seen and supported.


God chooses names for people throughout scripture. After wrestling with God through the night, Jacob is named Israel. Onesimus, who was the slave of Philemon, meets Paul in prison and becomes “brother.” Mary was called a servant girl and becomes “blessed.” And in coming to earth incarnated as a human in Jesus Christ, God gave us all the names “son” and “daughter.” We all became God's children and, therefore, brothers and sisters to one another. God is constantly calling out to us with these true names, the ones that were written on our hearts before we were born.


We don’t always hear our name being called so clearly as someone yelling from the side of the road, but God is there, persistently offering to call us beloved. In fact, it can be easy to miss because there are so many other names that we give to ourselves or that are given to us by other people. We label ourselves: success, failure, consumer, producer, perfect, flawed, worthless, deserving and on and on. But if we listen well, we can hear God calling our name in the times when we are the most hopeless and we can choose to say yes to that name.