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Entries in new name (3)


Creating a personal crest/ coat of arms

Last week, I told you I'd show you something I've done to capture my new name in physical form.

Coats of arms and family crests have long been used to express identity -- what a family, clan, or person stands for.  As I've been looking back over my story and doing research for my next book on personal identity, I've decided to create a visual metaphor that captures the new name (s) God has given to me.

Remember, he often re-names his loved ones because he wants to restore something in us, and he wants to affirm what we offer the world.  Further, God is often attempting to heal a wound when he speaks a new name to us, and affirm what we mean to him.

Here's the symbolism in each of my personal crest's parts below:  I designed this to reflect my unique story:

The sword of Aragorn - In the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is the wanderer-warrior and heir to the throne.  "Aragorn" is a name God bestowed upon me to help me understand my story, reveal a strength I doubted, and to heal some wounds.

A gold musical whole-note in the middle of the sword's handle guard.  "You are my 'Bruce Hornsby' is another piece of the identity puzzle.  I'm a writer, but also have been a musician for four decades.  Again, God wants to heal a wound here, as well as affirm what he wants me to bring to the world. 

Three interlocking rings:  the Royal Fellowship, the Trinity, that welcomes me to fight with them, and ultimately rule with them  (Yep, the bible actually says that we will rule with him.)

The roman numerals CXLIV -- translated is "144."  This number stands for Psalm 144:1 -- "Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."  Whether I'm sitting at the piano or at the computer keyboard, war is being waged -- beauty against desolation, meaning against futility, heart against religiousity.

The larger circle surrounding the sword:  the fellowship of those who have gone before. 

There are a number of things you can do with a personal crest. 

  • First, you can ask a graphic designer to create one for you that reflects your deep heart, your renaming.
  • Second, the crest can be printed, matted, or as in my case, a ring can be engraved with your crest on it.  I found a jeweler who is creating a ring based upon my design and should be receiving mine in the next couple weeks.


What would your personal crest look like?


Our new name is God's way of healing us

You are named by your parents, then you are named by God.  Until you discover the secret name he's given you, your story won't make sense to you and your wounds will haunt you.

He gives us our new names so that we may be healed. 

When I heard my new name, it felt like I was making it up.  The skeptic would say that because I wanted to hear it, I fabricated it in order to make myself feel better.  That certainly could happen -- if you leave God out of my story.

It happened when I was watching Tolkein's Lord of the Rings - the Return of the King for a second time.  God whispered something like, "You have a strength like Aragorn's."  Aragorn is the warrior-wanderer who would one day assume the throne as the true heir to the kingdom.   (Again, all this will sound self-serving unless we understand what God is up to.)   By the way, God renamed people all the time in Scripture:  'Abram' to 'Abraham,' 'Saul' to 'Paul,' 'Simon' to 'Peter.'  He hasn't stopped renaming people.

Why call me, 'Aragorn?"  I'd heard God whisper that name to me before.  The answer is that all men doubt their strength.  But in my case, there was more:  I had been a young pastor who challenged the unquestioned authority of those in positions of power.  I stepped out of my "proper role" to dispute the status quo.  Older and more tenured men in leadership saw it as insubordination and threat.  I was tossed out on my ear and kicked out of the pastorate. 

Congregation members who knew what was really happening voluntarily wrote letters on my behalf to the district leadership and to the bishop.  They fell on deaf ears.  The system wasn't designed to hear opinions other than its own.

Here's the parallel:  Aragorn faced a similar challenge with established leadership.  You may remember the scene in which King Theodin has just been released from the grasp of Worm Tongue's poisonous lying.  Under this spell of deception, Theodin had no mind of his own.  He was easily deceived.  The light in his eyes had gone out, his skin pasty and prematurely aged.  Then Gandalf banishes Worm Tongue and his foul counsel from the great hall, and King Theodin becomes himself again.

But Theodin is reluctant to expose his people to war.  The younger, inexperienced Aragorn challenges him:  "Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not."  Theodin is taken aback by what he thinks is Aragorn's brash arrogance -- but the would-be heir to the throne is simply speaking what needed to be said.  And Aragorn's unwelcomed counsel ended up moving the elder King to rescue his people from a dark army approaching their doorstep.

"Jim.  You have a strength like Aragorn." 
So my wounds began to heal as God spoke the name meant for me:  the pain of rejection (being thrown out of 'ministry'), as well as the doubting:  "Was I justified in what I did?  Was I the one who was wrong?"   And through the new name I hear, "No Jim.  That was your strength coming through.  It cost you, but they don't write your story.  I do."

Over the last 6 years, on several occassions, God continues unwrapping more layers of meaning to "Aragorn."  And so the healing continues. 

Have you begun to hear your secret name?


Healing our identity

We're often told to "find your identity in Christ alone" so that we don't take our need for validation to other, false substitutes.  I think that's a good idea; but I think most of us don't get the follow-up conversation we need on this issue.

For example, "What the heck does that mean?  How am I supposed to 'find my identity only in Christ?'  Do I pray more?  -  Try harder to think how much God loves me when I feel wounded?" 

How do you obtain an "in Christ alone" identity?" Here are two things that come to me:

1.  It's about being a daughter or a son, first.  More than what we can offer the world by means of our giftedness or calling, we first rest in, then offer our identity as sons and daughters of God.  This is often particularly difficult for me, as I want you to tell me how much what I do for you means.  I want to find validation in how much you respect me as a writer and teacher.  But this can never, no matter how much our gifts are genuinely needed, heal our identities.  We must find confidence in our identities as sons and daughers, first.

2.  It's about hearing our new name.  Abram becomes 'Abraham.'  Jacob becomes 'Israel.'  Saul becomes 'Paul.'  The new name expresses your new identity, uniqueness, and what you mean to God in a way that no one else does.  It is your particularity.  Hearing your new name helps heal the wounds -- those blows that were designed to take you out of play and to prevent you from offering what the world needs from you.  As for me, I remember God whispering, "Jim, you are my Aragorn."  He may not ever whisper that to you, but he knew what it would mean for me to hear that.

Listen, daughter or son, and rest there.

Then listen for your new name.  It is waiting for you.