Strength and Dignity

I’m not who I was

nametag5

Hello, my name is:

I’m definitely not a fan of nametags. Who is? Honestly, who wants to stick an obnoxious advertisement of their name on themselves? I realize nametags can be helpful by way of introductions and identification, but let’s be honest, awfully tacky. Am I right?

Think about it, you take the time to think through just the right blouse for that big social gathering; only to discover upon your arrival to said gathering, you must attach the undesired element of identification to your shirt. As if that isn’t bad enough, your new little sticker friend of identity grabs at your hair all night, snatching you baldheaded! Who’s paying attention to the blouse I ask? I’m advertising a name on my chest; which by the way is now a big ole hairy sticker! I say “a” name, because on occasion, I might fill in a false identity. Don’t even pretend that you haven’t at least thought about it. I recall an event in high school where my best friend and I were Summer and Autumn. That was fun! I digress.

I do have a point. Nametags identify and even if we aren’t wearing one on our physical person, we all wear invisible nametag(s) of identity. We may or may not like them, we maybe make them up, but we all have them. My personal invisible nametag has carried different names throughout my life. The name depends on the view of myself in that moment, or quite possibly someone else’s view of me. I might simply extend that sharpie marker to others and allow them an opportunity to fill in my invisible nametag of identity with a name of their choosing. One of my earliest memories of a nametag idenity is kindergarten music class, after an accident on the playground…

Hello my name is:
Pee Pee Pants

Or High School when I was a bit overambitious with make-up…

Hello my name is:
Chisel Face

Can you identify? Whether the name is self projected, or inflicted, identity can be a battle for many of us.

Hello my name is:

UNLOVED
UNWANTED
UNINVITED
UNWORTHY
UNATTRACTIVE

However, there is one nametag that never changes, yet it seems to be the most difficult to put on. It’s the nametag we often leave on the sheet of “welcome stickers”, sure it must be for someone else. This is the nametag God fills out. He knows us always as His children, His loved and chosen daughters. This identity is true, written with the most permanent of all permanent sharpies! There are no Crayola washable markers for Father God when He’s filling out nametags for His kids. Even still, this can be the hardest nametag of all to wear.

Hello my name is:

LOVED
CHOSEN
WANTED
INVITED
BEAUTIFUL
WORTHY

We can more readily accept the names of false identity than our true identities assigned to us via the God of the universe!

Let’s take a deeper look at a woman who we can more than likely identify with. We find her story in John 4.
(read the Message version below)

We know her identity as The Woman at the Well. No other name assigned to her, simply the Woman at the Well. I’m naming her. I’m naming her Wanita, because I can…and I just looked it up and it means “God is gracious”. So, it’s pretty much God’s will that I name her that. (I’m really joking, promise…about the will of God part, not the meaning of the name. ☺)

Let’s pick up the story with Wanita heading out to the well at the absolute hottest time of day. It seems she intentionally chose this time of day knowing that no one else would be there. I think we can relate. Have you ever avoided a social gathering? Ever felt out of place somewhere because of who you “are” or who your “aren’t”? Wanita didn’t want to Her encounter other people. This was avoidance with great purpose if you ask me. She does however encounter someone. It is a Divine encounter with Jesus, and he greets her; not with a “Hello” or “How ya doin’?” He says,

“Give me a drink of water.”

Jesus initiates conversation and right out of the gate Wanita takes on a “less than” identity.

Hello my name is: Samaritan.

She explains to Jesus that people like Him don’t associate with people like her. She’s basically from the other side of the tracks. If you’re a child of the 80’s, just think “Pretty in Pink”…sigh… Moving on, Jesus responds that if Wanita knew Him as the gift of love He truly was to her, she would understand the satisfaction He had to offer her longing soul. Wanita the Well Woman was having an encounter with the Savior of the world, and she was completely unaware.

Hello my name is: Unaware

We can often respond quite the same way. Forgetting that Jesus is ready, sitting by the well of our soul, offering the only water that will completely satisfy. Yet, we neglect to present our need to Him, and we lower our bucket into a well that’s run completely dry. He knows our deep need, and longs for us to look to Him for satisfaction.

Hello my name is: Thirsty

Jesus then delivers one question that presses directly into Wanita’s true identity.

“Go get your husband and come back.”

If you know what is coming next, you might be able to feel the sting of that request by Jesus. I kind of like that Jesus delivers it wrapped up in a package of sarcasm. Jesus is direct for sure, and it seems He’s surprised to get a nugget of truth in Wanita’s answer.

“I don’t have a husband”

Jesus proceeds to fill in the blanks that Wanita indeed has no husband, though she has had many intimate encounters as if she has had MANY husbands… if you follow. This causes her to understand that He clearly knows everything about her.

Hello my name is: Known

To be fully known and yet, fully loved. Completely vulnerable, I sense Wanita was feeling this way, and the shame of her full identity caused her to try to turn the conversation. Can you feel the tension? Our sweet friend Wanita is thinking, “Let’s talk about something else.” At that point, she addresses the logistics of worship in their day. Jesus is kind to answer her concern, but then brings it all back around to emphasize that identity will not matter, it will only matter who she is and how she lives before God. I love how the message translation puts Jesus’ words
WHEN WHAT YOU’RE CALLED WON’T MATTER!
What will matter???
LIVING by the SPIRIT and in TRUTH! (See vs. 21-24 the MSG below)

Hello my name is: Loved

In spite of her attempts to distract from Jesus from her identity, Jesus lets her know that what matters is who she is to God.

Hello my name is: Daughter

Then, it’s the power of her story. It’s what she carries into town and shares unabashedly with other Samaritans. Her avoidance of people has now turned to a pursuit of people, for her identity has changed and she is empowered by the TRUTH that’s taken hold of her!

Hello my Name is: Witness

This is where it lands for all of us. The identity we carry has a THEN and NOW; a WAS and AM. You may have a then and now in just this day alone.
Hello this morning my name was: IRRITABLE
(Then, after some moments at the well with the Savior)
Hello this afternoon my name is: JOYFUL

Our WAS and AM of identity can fall within years, weeks, or months in between. Be true to it. In the truth of our identity is our witness, our story.

And don’t forget, it’s a work in progress!

John 4 (the MSG)
9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.
That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God.
Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!

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