I can remember my elders shouting my name, as a child, while I ran through the sanctuary with friends, knocking things over, getting into all sorts of things I wasn't supposed to. Back then, I went by a few names but the one they would always use when I was in trouble was Xavier! I am named after my father, and what I didn't realize at the time was that because I wasn't seeing him as much, it actually brought me great joy knowing that we would always be connected in that way. In hindsight, that same connection also motivated me to keep running around! This would be my first experience with the power in a name.
My father was well known in the community and the connection made me feel good, at home with all of the people who knew him. Church was our home back then. We'd be in that building for several hours a day, at least four days a week and it was a good time. The challenge was in what we had to face outside of the church--An atmosphere dominated by confusion and hate (the complete opposite of our church home); America in the '80s was everything but great for those in my community. For many us, the church served as a shelter where we could "rest" and draw strength from the sacred word. The church was a safe space; a place where we could retreat, where we could prepare and arm ourselves to go out and fight with the "goliaths" (material powers) of our time.
In one of my favorite stories of the Tanakh, the young shepherd boy named David chose just five "smooth" stones to defeat a giant (transcendence of human senses) who seemed unbeatable at the time and just as he went out in the name of God, so I imagined my elders marching out in haste, day after day, to face the material powers of their time, all in the mighty name of the same God. They were fearless; armed with the word and the word was all they believed they needed. Looking back, I take great pride in all that they endured, every opportunity they were denied, every label they shook off, and all of the derogatory name-calling that they experienced along their way. They knew their real names, and wouldn't be influenced to believe otherwise. They learned and adapted masterfully while focusing on the one true name above all names. Elohim.
As an adult, I sometimes catch myself romanticizing my childhood state of oblivion as a "blissful time when I had no worries", "things were just so simple back then" and I think I miss that time most when I am tasked with a really difficult decision. But the truth is, it wasn't blissful at all. It was more like a season where I was just unaware of my ability to assign meaning to things. I was still learning, and so things rarely stuck to me because I hadn't developed the capacity to make them "good" or "bad". The parents hadn't given us that apple yet; Everything really was what it was.
Life now seems to be a careful balancing act between my childhood state and adulthood awareness. This must be why Jesus was preferential to the child-like mind when speaking about the kingdom of heaven to adults. There is great value in the child-like curiosity and fearlessness to explore, the humility, and the ability to detach from the shame of a mistake. I think learning would be much more efficient if we honored these qualities in our children and encouraged more adults to demonstrate them when challenged. Children being "like sponges", as we've heard many times, may very well hold the key to our success as adults and as a (human) race.
Names, meanings, interpretations, and how we should relate to them were given to us by the adults and early influences in our lives. They would name things and we would learn; a tradition dating all the way back to the sixth day of creation. Things we've always been empowered to do: name, influence, and learn. But what happens when meanings don't fit our lives anymore? When we have to change the names and meanings that we've identified with for most of our lives? When the cost of a new way of being is a really close relationship? Or when we have to make a decision and change is the only option? All questions we ask ourselves at multiple stages in our lives.
Marcus Garvey once said that "the greatest certainty is change" and I believed him. Wholeheartedly. I still do. In order to stay in alignment with our purpose we must remain adaptable, like children (they never stop), and resolve to grow. Our level of adaptability is directly connected to our ability to name things, influence them, and learn. Names change things.
What's in a name? A name is a unique variation of letters and sounds, a code often described as the key to a person's innermost identity and essence. A gift given to us from our Creator. God created the animal, adam named the animal an eagle and it was so... When we name a thing we also influence it. Our own consciousness can change an object solely based on the name we give it. Beauty as a type in one culture, is not beautiful at all in another (something my Elders also had to contend with). Belief in a name is one of the most powerful manifestation concepts we own in this life, we can change the trajectory of any situation or thing simply by changing the name. When we choose to address things like racism as "ignorant", and believe it to be so, it no longer has any power over us, and considering that we are all created from the same supremely intelligent source how could it?
With a name change, even that which was meant to destroy us can be used for our own good. We must understand that we are very powerful beings!
A new name can change the whole game.
The Elders in civilizations past understood the power in name-calling very well. In fact, most newborn baby names were chosen by the village Elders or the Priesthood for that reason. All were in agreement that chosen names should be divinely-inspired, always reflecting significantly positive events and serving as great inspiration for the challenges that one would need to overcome in her/his life. Who better than those who had devoted their entire lives to God could carry out this responsibility? Hebrew names (like Yeshua) in particular, often were code for an attribute of God or a sentence about God. A name was something we could reference when times seemed unbearable; a direct message that whatever we were going through was not only bearable, it was beatable. Your name (and the ability to name things) was your blessing and it still is.
A new name can change everything for you. Never stop believing and never stop doing. Allow your actions to align with your highest good today, so that when your name is spoken in the future, someone may be encouraged to live out their dreams in their own fantastic way!