So, speaking from experience…. Names can be really important.
I feel like I have particularly relevant experience in this area, stemming from the highly-crucial-and-deeprooted fact that… I am a girl. With a boy’s name.
Now, I know on paper, it looks a bit clearer… ‘Peta’ obviously isn’t ‘Peter’… But, truthfully, you pronouce my name almost identically to the boy’s name. And it causes massive confusion wherever I go. It always has. And I think, it perhaps always will.
I quite like the confusion to be honest. I think it makes for a really good ice breaker, and it means that the kids and young people you speak to in lessons and school assemblies never-ever-ever forget you, (even if it’s just the.. ‘Oh, you’re that girl with a boy’s name…’). It also leads to some pretty humorous and illustration worthy conversations.
Here are some of my favourite examples from the last 28 years:
When I was 5 years old at a friend’s birthday party:
‘Oh, you’re a girl… I thought… Oh, never mind… I’m afraid you’ll have to have a party bag for a little boy… Because… Oh dear…’ (My friend’s Mum).
Being taken to the school disco by a male friend aged 12ish:
My friend: Mum, I’m taking my friend Pete to the school disco.
His Mum: WHAT?!?!
My friend: Oh, no, I mean, she’s a girl… called Pete…
Meeting a new friend for the second time aged 20:
‘Oh hi Paul… Oh no, it’s not Paul is it? Sorry, I just remembered you had a boy’s name beginning with ‘P’!’ (My friend… Who did continue to be, even after this :))
In Japan this summer, speaking at a church in Tokyo:
‘Pizza? You’re named after the food? Pizza? No? Is it pronounced like Peeka? Like the character from Pokemon?’ (The church pastor)
This week at an audit meeting with an inspector:
Me: Hi, I’m Peta, it’s nice to meet you… (hand-shake)…
Inspector: Oh hi Katie, it’s really great to meet you.
Me: No… That’s not my name…
Hahaha… Seriously. These are but a few of my real-life experiences. It probably doesn’t help that my name very quickly gets abbreviated to ‘Pete’ by those closest to me. Which really isn’t an easy one to differentiate. For anyone.
But it raises an interesting point doesn’t it?
Names define us. The names that others call us. The expectations they have. The names that we call ourselves. The expectations we have. But foundationally, the names that God calls us.
I’m so thankful that God knows my name (my ACTUAL name). But I’m so thankful that He adds to it and multiples it with an incredible expansion of His own heart.
He calls me His friend (John 15 v 15).
He calls me His masterpiece (Ephesians 2 v 10).
He calls me His treasure (Deuteronomy 7 v 6).
He calls me His child (2 Corinthians 6 v 18).
He calls me His beloved (Song of Songs 2 v 16).
These are just a few of the names that He calls me. That He calls us. And the thing is, so many of us know these things. In our head. We know where to find them in our Bibles. We can actually say them so often they kind of seem ‘normal’, and we forget to be thankful. We forget the reality.
Because honestly, these things should blow our minds and our hearts in the impact of them and the meditation upon them… That He would look at me and call me His child? That I could be a branch of the true vine? That I am a friend of Jesus? That I am no longer a slave to sin but a redeemed daughter of righteousness? That I am made right with Him? That Holy Spirit can be my constant companion? That I am a new creation and a precious jewel of God?
Imagine if we could really live like that was true? Really? Deeply? Completely?
I can’t and don’t think I will ever be able to fully comprehend how this kind of love works… But I sure want to make it my life’s goal to press into it. Because how can you not respond to a love like that with everything you are? How can a love like that not change absolutely everything in you and about you? How can being called by the beautiful names that God places on you not heal and restore and lift you from anything else ever spoken over you?
You know, my actual name meaning is the same as ‘Peter’. It means ‘Rock’ (NO jokes about being stubborn allowed ;)). There’s also a native American root of the female name ‘Peta’ that means ‘Golden Eagle’ (Ok, that’s cooler, right?). I’m told that my surname means ‘Watchman’. And all of those meanings are ace. Like I said, I like my name. But you know what? Being called a beloved daughter of the Most High God, a friend of Jesus and one who has fellowship with the Holy Spirit? Well, that’s transformational.
In every sense.
(This blog post was inspired by the fact that I had an email this morning from a good friend which read, ‘Peta Waite!!! Or should I say Peta Widge?!?’, which was the rather random and amusing nickname he and his brother had for me a very long time ago… You’ve gotta love those laugh-out-loud memories…)
Oh, and Japan really did throw up some weird and wonderful name-stories. Too many to include. Here’s my favourite picture to illustrate. Thank you Osaka-based-Starbucks-lady…
Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂