Friday, December 10, 2010

What's in a name...that God can't change.

One aspect of Islam has always appealed to me. When a person converts to be a Muslim, a name change often occurs to signal the transformation. While not required by the faith unless you happen to have a 'forbidden' name, most born into the religion don't have to worry about a name change because their parents had the foresight to properly label them. From an Islamic website:

Muslims should have good names and give good names to their children. Islam does not require all converts to change their names. New Muslims should only change their first names, if they contain wrong or bad meanings. As far as their last names are concerned they should not be changed unless their parents are alive and accept the change.

Of course in this country, we have a warped sense of how this all works due to marquee converts like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X that have a negative stigma wrapped in traditional Western belief-based stereotypes associated with their conversions.

Now don't worry. I'm not using my post today to announce I'm converting to Islam and becoming a Muslim. Jesus is my Savior sent by the Father. He was born a man, died an Earthly death to complete a Divine plan of salvation and rose from that death to return to the Father. My faith is completely contained in that plan of salvation, and I would die before renouncing my belief.

There. Hope that cleared up any potential misunderstanding created by my opening statement (take a deep breath mom).

As elementary as the concept is to our faith as Christians, I became a new person when I accepted Christ. Gone was the old Tony C and born was the new Tony C. However, the change was in no way associated to my name...just my actions. Yes, that's the way it should be, but I also like the whole name changing concept too.

As most of you know, my wife gave birth to our baby daughter last week (praise God!). We had a ton of visitors at the hospital over the course of the 3 day stay, and during one of those visits a relatively new friend of my wife that I actually knew almost ten years ago walks in to visit. Apparently, she knew we were married but had never mentioned to Candice knowing me some time back. No big deal. She had dated a friend of mine while she was in college.

I think where the initial uneasiness of the reunion stemmed was in the fact she knew the 'old' Tony C. The guy with the messed up priorities and secular focus. The persona I'm sure she associated with my name...and why wouldn't she?

Now, I was never really a bad dude in my past. I just wasn't focused on the Kingdom and made some really lame choices in those days that are well documented in my numerous post on this blog. But as we reconnected and laughed about a few shared memories, a sense of embarrassment feel over me and was probably written on my face. My wife knows of that old me and even seen a small portion before our relationship unfortunately, and that's mostly because those old actions have followed the name Tony C.

There's a small part of me that wishes on the night I feel to my knees begging God to forgive my slide away from Him that the very next morning I awoke a new man in spirit and in name. He promised to separate my transgressions far away from me, but my actions would have to dictate and document that change to the world...and that would take time. There are still many who remember me as the old Tony C probably because I was a convincing agnostic who wore the title far too good, and they aren't convinced my 'conversion' will probably last.

I will one day have the conversation with both my younger daughters that I recently had with my oldest. When the time arrives that family starts stressing to them about how important protecting their reputation is in life, I will calmly remind them that our reputation is based on what other people perceive about us, and we all live in sin...each and every person. That sin may be prevalent or may be hidden but still there and still against God's will. Character, on the other hand, is who we truly are and while you have little control over your have total control over your character. Work on having good character in the WWJD way...that's most important.

No name changes required to live the WWJD way either...little baby Eden Blakely.


katdish said...

Aw, Tony. She's beautiful! Congrats to you and Mrs. Tony C!

I hear you. I run into folks from my past and I pray that they can sense that the person I used to be isn't who I am now.

David said...

Congrats Tony and Candice! She's beautiful.

You are correct about character as well. I still get with High School friends on Facebook and 35 years later they still think I am me - I mean the old me.

God also changed the names of Bible folks - Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, and Sarai to Sarah. These names actually changed meanings and destiny.

I have some friends that have had this happen.

And there is a nice song about it too.

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast
Lonely or afraid
I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face
(DJ Butler, copyright 1987,
Mercy Publishing)

Tracy said...

She's so beautiful Tony!!!!

I've periodically thought about the name change thing (especially David's examples) too. I've sometimes wished for a "new" name that symbolized God's destiny for me...but that's just not how things work in our culture. I really like what you told your daughter about reputation vrs character.

Also really like the song David posted here