In 2017 I began pondering conversations about names. I observed several friends take back their maiden name after divorcing from brutal marriages. And some chose to select their own last name as a reflection of the identity they were never allowed to celebrate. I have nothing but complete respect for those choices because I’ve heard their stories, and they have survived beyond what they ever should have had to endure.
These are strong women. Creative women. Women who work hard and play hard. They’ve raised great children and poured their lives into what most of us were told was “ordained and approved of by God.”
Over the last several years, I’ve been given a great gift that has completely reversed my childhood worldview. The more conversations I have, the more I realize I am among a generation who always felt misunderstood, who were criticized for the questions we asked, who were sent messages that obedience was the key to a right relationship with God, all the while being taught He was gracious but we were never shown grace by those who taught it. We’ve always had this silent camaraderie until now. Now we are speaking up. We are reclaiming who we are. We are realizing we are enough and that Jesus really is as gracious and compassionate and merciful as we were taught, only now we are the ones extending those traits to each other and the world around us. And sometimes so much so that we get accused of being too tolerant, too free, too left, too ____________.
So back to my original thought on names. I celebrate and believe in this newfound freedom to be a generation that is waking up out of a suffocating religious mindset, and we are allowing ourselves to not start over, but rather turn to the next chapter with fresh perspectives.
Some people ask why I kept my married name after my husband left me in 2014. They think I should be more than happy to go back to my maiden name because of the bad memories attached to it. But here’s the deal. There are bad memories with my maiden name as well, so what’s the difference? I’ve built the next few decades of my life on this name. I’ve earned three degrees in this name. I’ve built a myriad of personal and business networks in this name. I’m determined to make good by this name because it’s not my identity as a divorcee, it’s the identity that God used to bring so much healing and new insight into my life.
Will I ever choose a new name? I don’t know. For now, I’m happy just moving forward and never correcting the majority who mispronounce my last name. So in a way, it’s already been changed by default.