Named and Known {Book Club}

Named and Known

Do you ever feel nameless?

In Cambodia I called everyone by a family name, like sister or auntie or grandfather. It is comforting in a way when your neighbor uses the word for daughter when she talks to you. It can also be a bit confusing, and I’m not sure I ever quite got the hang of it. How do I know when to switch to grandmother from older auntie? I’m sure I offended some people by choosing the wrong label.

But I realized after years using and hearing these familial terms that I longed to hear my own name. It matters doesn’t it? It might feel small but there is something powerful about being known in this way.

As we read about in chapter four of Glorious Weakness, we can hear or call ourselves names that are not true. These labels or names can fill our hearts with shame, cause us to shrink back in fear or push us to believe our whole identity is formed solely on this one thing.

Alia (once again) bravely shares her journey of moving from being labeled, by herself and others, to a deeper understanding of who she is in Christ.

So often those names we call ourselves are hidden. We jump on the thought train that takes us to name-calling in the dark moments of overwhelm or guilt. We don’t speak them out loud but let those labels wash over us internally over and over again.

But Jesus knows. Alia said, “Jesus knows the voices we face, and his promise to send a Comforter to be with us forever anticipates that our lives will be filled with grief and sorrow, with desert wanderings and our consuming and ever-present weakness. Why would we need a Comforter unless he knew we would be uncomfortable?”

This thought shifts something in me. Uncovered shame can lead to freedom, and there’s something freeing in the thought that the comfort of the Holy Spirit is available to me when the lies and accusations come. He is there and knows, and he is also the source of Truth.

More than that, He gives us a new name. Chosen. His. Forever Loved. During the 2019 Velvet Ashes Retreat last April, we had the opportunity to spend time with Jesus and let Him give us a new name. It was a sweet time for me as I thought about all the names I usually use for myself, but lining them up against who God says I am. (If you haven’t participated in the Velvet Ashes retreat before, check out this post and the retreat site!)

Alia said, “The antidote for the voices that come for us is our true identity as beloved. The cross tells us the truth. I don’t know of a fiercer love than this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are not shamed or self-satisfied, we are saved. We return to the slippery-tongued serpent and hear the hissing in the whole world, and even though lies come easier, we tell ourselves a new story. We hear the good news.”

I don’t know a fiercer love than that either. And what a gift it is!

What resonated with your heart in this chapter? What are ways you run after truth when the lies and accusations come?

If you are just stopping by and want to join in with us as we read Glorious Weakness, it’s not too late! Go back and read the first few posts about the Intro and Chapter 1, and Chapters 2 and 3. Then join us next week!

October 29: Chapter 5

November 5: Chapters 6 & 7

November 12: Chapter 8

November 19: Chapter 9

November 26: Chapters 10 & 11

Photo by Kerensa Pickett on Unsplash

6 Comments

  1. Phyllis October 22, 2019

    I just enjoyed coming back up for air and light and hope after the darkness of the previous chapters. Alia Joy is a wonderfully brave and good writer. I love how she says, “I’m writing my way back to the truth. To the place were I remember I am not labeled, I am named.”

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 28, 2019

      I agree, Phyllis! We might not all write our way back to truth but I think we do have ways that we put truth in front of us and remind ourselves to keep hoping. 🙂 But I’m thankful that is what Alia has done!

  2. Beth October 23, 2019

    I loved the truth found in the chapter! It was so powerful and meaningful and just made so much sense to me in terms of where we go when we face hurtful voices in our lives. I am reminding myself now to remember who God is and who he has made me to be. To focus on that above all else. I also really see now the importance of affirming others in who God has made them to be even when they may think of it as wrong or weak. It’s so important to speak truth and love over people and their lives. It seems like we are always so quick to find fault in others, in ourselves, in our situations that we forget to affirm and to love forward. I definitely want to be the type of person who speaks God’s name Beloved over the people in my life right now.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 28, 2019

      Beth, such good reminders! What if we all spoke truth and love over each other? I don’t think this would be a blanket statement with no understanding of our humanness/brokenness but we would care so much about each other we would want to gently and firmly help bring things to light and also remind them of their identity. This is what I would want others to do for me. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Rachel Kahindi October 26, 2019

    The quote about the Comforter really stuck with me. I had never thought of it that way – why would Jesus send the Comforter unless we needed to be comforted? It’s so obvious. I know the word Comforter in that passage of John can also be translated as Counselor, and I think the Bible I use these days uses the word Helper. When I read the word Comforter, I have those other translations in mind. In the same passage, Jesus warned his disciples about the trouble they would face. Of course we have a Comforter because we need to be comforted.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 28, 2019

      Rachel, I definitely still need others to point out what should be obvious. 🙂 But yes, what a great way to think about it- how much Jesus knows us and knows what we need. We need a comforter, a helper, a counselor! It’s a good truth to keep in front of us and remind ourselves (and one another) of.

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