Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What Is In a Name?

I probably haven't always hated my name (Diane...pronounced Dee-Anne). As a toddler, I was labeled "DiDi." As I grew older, it metamorphosed into "Dids" or "that darn child!" In fact, if I recall correctly, my name being mispronounced hardly competed with the incessant urge to play or seek happiness, until an older sibling alerted me to the fact, that each and every occurrence was if not a hideous crime, at least a slight of indecent proportions.

What was a ten-year-old to do? Being the youngest of eight, my place in the family hiererchy was set. I should be seen and not heard, when told to jump, the only acceptable response was, "How high?" I had jurisdiction over the backyard chickens, one of the dogs, (can one ever have jurisdiction over a cat?) and my imaginary Indian friends. (Playing Cowboys and Indians was not yet considered politically incorrect)

I felt ill-equipped, rightfully so by the angst of the years that followed, to handle that assertive role. The anticipation of the mispronunciation of my name, became larger than life. In my defense, I do recall timidly correcting an adult or two, but alas my hard fought bravery dissipated, when my brave utterance appeared to fall on deaf ears.

In Junior High School, with the influence of Spanish class, I added an accent so that my name would read as Díane instead of Diane. Little did I realize the difficulties in explaining the job description of an accent during a simple introduction. My next brainstorm occurred in High School. I began writing Deanne on my class papers, until my 11th grade English teacher gently explained the illegality of that to me.

These adventures continued until around age twenty-two. Fresh out of brainstorms and tired of acquiescing outwardly and castigating myself inwardly, I made a decision. I did what any self-respecting, self-confessed coward would do when their back’s against the wall. I resolved to change my name.

Since I felt that a legal name change would be hurtful and maybe even a little disrespectful to my parents, I settled for the derivative, "Dee." That decision coincided with an instance of victimization. As a result, I saw that name change as part of my new "take charge" persona. I took martial arts classes, I pumped iron and I developed a new "attitude." Vic-who-tim? Not I, ever again!

Two years ago, while chatting with a Minister I met online (yes...Minister and online...to be addressed in another post). Things finally came around to the exchange of names and I gave him my legal name, Diane and told him I'd always disliked it and why. He asked me what my name meant and I didn't know. He did a quick search online and within five minutes, I had a new lease on life!

My name meant Divine! Divine! Can you believe it! Suddenly, my whole life began to make sense. Here I'd been repudiating the name that explained me...to me. I'd recently learned in one of my Bible classes that the naming of a child in Biblical times took a bit of thought. Not because of the need for a different sounding name, or a name that would perpetuate the ego of the parent, but a name that would call forth or predict, if you will, the character of the child.

I'd always been a bit out of step, not quite in synch with my peers. I'd always felt I didn't quite fit the mold. Now, I'd come full circle. The same way I'd hated, denigrated, denied and dismissed my name and in essence myself, for my name and myself worth had become synonymous. In the same manner I'd dismissed God's call to service, as imaginary delusions of grandeur.

Why would God want to use me? I was damaged, despoiled goods, wasn't I? In fact my exact words were..."Preach? I sing, that's what I do!" Despite my many attempts to explain to God why He'd really made a mistake this time, upon hearing what my name meant...I figure...God had the last laugh after all.

I was a breech birth baby and apparently a confused one at that. Not only was I facing the wrong direction, I was intent on continuing my journey in the wrong direction, apparently unwilling to experience new birth. Although I'd heard the many recountings of my birth through the power of prayer, firmly set in my pattern of parallelism, the more glimpses of the spiritual realm I perceived, the further I ran.the wonder and awe of the testimony had become buried by the attacks of life. But no matter how far or fast I ran physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually, the fact still remained...I was destined from birth.

At this point, you're probably expecting a triumphant announcement that from that point onward, I've never introduced myself as "Dee" again and proudly embraced my birthname "Diane." Well...this is keeping-it-real-for God blogspot...so I'll just say that while I'm becoming more at ease in my spirit, my calling, and my name...thirty-seven years of self-hatred, is not so easily erased in two years, but it is mitigated by my change in perspective.

That being, that it's not about who man says I am..."Diane"...but about who God says I am..."Divine."

Peace,
Dee


www.indians.org

Choosing a name for your baby can be difficult. Many names have indian origin without people realizing it. Various forms of Indian art have integrated into our culture.

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