Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What's in a Name, Anyway?

When I was 19 years old, I followed a boy across the country. Well, I didn't follow him. I went with him in his beat-up VW van--the kind my daughter calls a "kidnapping van." 

Only problem was, he was following his girlfriend, who was waiting for him in California. When we broke down in West Virginia, he decided that I should return home to New Jersey. Devastated and humiliated, I called my mother (who else?), who came and bailed me out not for the first, and not for the last time.

photo credit
Undaunted, I flew out to California anyway (I was a little stubborn, not to mention proud back then) and temporarily housed myself with my father and stepmother until I could find an apartment.

I also decided to change my name. 

Mary simply wasn't good enough. Too plain. Too simple. Too boring. I was in California! And it was 1979! I was trying to find myself.

I'll bet you want to know what my new name was, don't you? 


(pronounced the Spanish way, with the 'e' sounding like a long 'a'). I still love that name.

I'd discovered that my full first name was really Mary Theresa (not just Mary, with Theresa being my middle name). I thought I'd go with that, but shorten it.

Funny thing was, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I tried, but it sounded strange, like everyone would know I was lying, and I'd be found out, and they'd all make fun of me. 

Plus, I didn't know when people were talking to me. It didn't stick. In fact, years later, someone from an organization I'd briefly been involved with called my father's house looking for Maresa. He told the caller that she died. Which she did.

Why do we feel the need to escape who we are?

Because we want to escape our past. We want to start over. Try something someone new, because frankly, we don't like who we are, or were. 

Moving to a new state gave me ample opportunity to change who I was, complete with a new name. Or so I thought.

The problem with that is this:

Simply changing our location and our name won't change who we are. 

We can try to forget our past, but it's like putting a bandage over a deep wound. It works for awhile, but needs constant care and attention to keep the blood from soaking through. 

Eventually, we need to see a doctor to have that wound stitched up properly so that it will begin to heal.

We need to deal with our past and all the feelings that go along with it. That constant care and attention we give it gets exhausting, not to mention the fact that it leaves room for infection.

Why don't we like who we are?

Why do we want to change?
What do we want to change?
What about the things we can't change? How do we deal with those?

Dealing with questions like these takes time and takes courage. Sometimes, we may need a good support group, trusted friend, mentor, pastor, bible study or even a good counselor.

God is big on changing names. Abram became Abraham (Gen 16-17). Jacob became Israel (Gen 32). 

Then there's Peter (John 1:42).

And Paul--who actually adopted his Latin name, "Paul" (his father was a Roman citizen) for missionary purposes. Reference

But all kidding aside...

My favorite from Isaiah 62:2-5:

you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.

Hephzibah means My delight is in her (and Beulah means married).

Now THAT, my friends--this name-changer--is a game changer!

The key is not in changing our name, but allowing our name to be changed--by God Himself.

When we come to Christ and give Him all the pain and hurt of our past, He makes us new. He gives us our new name.

But know this:

Your new name will only come when you give the international call for help:


  • Submit to God, instead of continuing to fight against Him.
  • Obey His instructions, instead of continuing in rebellion.
  • Stand and see the deliverance the Lord will bring you (Ex 14:14).
Our job is to submit and obey. The rest is up to God.

So, scratch Maresa. I now have another new name:


That's right. The name my parents gave me.

The name Mary is a derivative of Miriam, or even myrrh, which means, "bitter," or "rebellious." Yeah, not so great, but sadly, it describes the former me. But get this:

It also means, "wished for child." 


And according to my mother, I was.

It is also believed to have originally been an Egyptian name, meaning, "beloved."

So there ya go--full circle:

From bitter rebellion to beloved, wished-for child.

What's in your name?

Check it out at Behindthename.com.

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day: I Will Change Your Name

Exciting News (at least, for me)!

Did you like this post? If so, you'll like my new column in the Ruby for Women magazine (and sometimes in between in the Ruby blogger). 
Embracing Who You Are and Walking in Who You Were Meant to Be.

In order to make sure you don't miss any of these posts, go to Rubyforwomen.com and get on the mailing list! Or get on mine, and I'll send out notices of when a B.Y. post goes out!

sharing this post with these lovelies


  1. Mary (Mary!), I LOVE how God works. We were JUST talking about this very topic in our GALs Sunday School class (Girls and Ladies...we've got from 12 years to 70+ years, including my daughters and me, meeting together). SO much of what you so wittily and wisely wrote echoes our discussion just 2 days ago. He is the Master Reinforcer! Am printing this to share with my class this Sunday. Thank you, my friend!

    1. wow, I hope that your ladies were blessed by my words, Elizabeth! What an honor. Thank you so much.

  2. OK, honestly, Mary. I had to stop laughing to really let your wonderful lesson sink in. (By the way, the one with Nancy Reagan completely made me LOL!) And yes, it's a wonderful lesson. My first name is Sharon. And when I went to school, I decided it was too *formal* - so I had everyone call me Shari. Everyone used the *new name* except my family. To them I was and will always be Sharon. At some point along the way, as an adult, I decided that I really liked the name Sharon, so I went back to it! It is a Hebrew name, and comes from a plain in Israel. I also like it because of the Rose of Sharon reference in Scripture. I have also heard that it could mean *princess* - and, as a daughter of The King, I think that's quite nice!!

    As to your greater lesson, it does seem to be in our human nature to want to be something different than what we are. We can become masters at wearing masks. This week I reposted a letter that my grandbeagle, Marty, "wrote" to God. And that precious dog has taught me much about being joyful in who we are, and what we have, and in the gift of living with the Savior!

    I have one last Scripture that I find fascinating (Revelation 2:17, NLT):

    "To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it."

    Doesn't that sound exciting?!


    1. I love that verse, and I'd quite forgotten it! It really is perfect. And I love your story too. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Mary, I love this article! I especially love when you said, "The key is not changing our name, but allowing our name to be changed...by God Himself." What great truth. The 70's were a crazy time. I'm glad you stuck with Mary instead of Maresa. Thanks for linking up through RaRa Link up. Blessings to you!

    1. I still really like that name, Jennifer. I may have even toyed with the idea of naming my daughter that, but it had too many odd memories attached to it. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Hi Mary,
    What a fun post to read! I think we have changed our name or our persona at some point in our lives to try and be someone who has that extra something special to attract people.
    I'm so glad that Jesus gave me a new name when I became His. I often wondered what it was but I found a new appreciation for the name my parents' had given me--God's gracious gift. I finally stopped wanting to change my name.
    I was next to you at Testimony Tuesday, and I'm so glad I was!
    Blessings, Janis

    1. I love your insight, Janis-the fact that we've all tried to change something to "be someone who has that extra something special to attract people."

  5. visiting from laura's.
    i love your post! such truth!
    i too changed my name once. all through college it stuck...that is until i met my now husband. he saw through the facade and eventually with God's help broke through so many layer of ick.
    i'm so glad i am who i am now. forever me! such freedom, that.

    1. so funny! It stuck until your husband saw through your facade. That's great!!! Thanks for visiting.

  6. I love those memes. We are what we are called; children of God. :)

    1. Ah, yes, Lux. So true. And so simple. We just complicate things when we try to change ourselves.

  7. A rose by any other name. It's what's in our soul that matters.

    God bless.

  8. "The key is not in changing our name, but allowing our name to be changed--by God Himself."

    I love this! Yes, a new name makes all the difference when God is giving it to us.

    You might enjoy my recent post along similar lines: http://josephjpote.com/2015/11/lineage-matters/

    Blessings to you!

  9. Weren't you the wild child in days past, Mary! Or should I call you Maresa?? How exotic sounding! Yes, sadly we can't change the outside of our identity hoping that somehow it will change our insides or the way we feel about ourselves. That's totally a work of God, like you've so eloquently put it all here for us, Mary. Those cartoons a riot! Thanks for giving me several laughs on this dreary day, girlfriend!

    1. Maybe that was the problem, Beth--it sounded more exotic than I was. I'm simple, basic. Quirky. Exotic? No.

  10. Thank you for sharing this post about who you were and who God has made you you. It is great to get our identity in Him. Would love for you to share you stories and link up at Sitting Among Friends. Find us at http://youresewtrendy.blogspot.com

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jaime. Looking forward to sharing on a new blog linkup.

  11. It sounds like your parents gave you the perfect name, Mary! I use that behindthename website all the time when I'm writing. Names, the meanings behind them, mattered a lot in scripture, so it follows that they should matter to us. Thank you for sharing your transformation with us! Praise God! Great post!

    1. It's fascinating, June. My husband, Brian, looked his name up, and it was a little disappointing, as it means hill or high, noble. It is Irish--so is he, so it is fitting at least. I like to think it means a lot more than a hill. he is noble in my book.

  12. This may be my favorite post of yours. I love everything about it. My given name is Deborah and I've gone by every nickname you can derive from it. And the funny thing about going somewhere new for a fresh start is that we always take ourselves with us. You're right the only fresh perfect new start is found in our Savior. God's blessings!

    1. Thanks, Deb. My sister's name is Debra. She goes by Debra at work, but we call her Deb. She was known as Debbie for years. There's not a whole lot you can do with Mary-a lot of people call me Mare (oddly, most men--especially those who have just met me--call me Mare).

  13. Lovely post! From one Mary to another...I was taken aback years ago when I studied the Hebrew meaning of my name only to dig and find out that the Myrrh, bitter herb, denotes healing. Then I embraced my name and my purpose--to bring the love of Jesus to the broken. I was a wanted child too! Have a great day!

    1. Oh, Mary, I love that! So true for me too. I feel as if I can empathize with the bitterness of life, but point to Who can offer the healing. Thanks for sharing that.

  14. I was intrigued by this post because I run a baby name blog! My middle name is Marie and I liked it more once I found out that could also mean "wished for child". My first name is Alyssa which can mean many things but the meaning that I found that I liked the best is joy. So my name is "joy from bitterness" or a "wished-for joy". Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I'd be honored if you stopped by my website belovedbabynames.com!