Say My Name

“Say my name, say my name, say my name”

From “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child

One of my best friends often breaks into this song when my three year old daughter calls his name.

Names are funny things.  Bands can have great or rubbish names.  “The Innocence Mission”, “Godspeed You! Black Emperor”, “Half Man, Half Biscuit”, “That Petrol Emotion” and “Red House Painters” have always sounded like great band names to me.  “The Band” just seems kind of lazy.  A band called “Free Beer” are probably likely to generate a curious crowd at any pub gig.

We all adopt names by means of adjectives to describe who we are or who people have told us we are at various points throughout the years.  We wear labels physically and metaphorically.  We want identity, but where do we find it?  Where do we find worth?  We talk about “finding ourselves” and yet we can feel free when we lose ourselves in something or to something.

We have a small-group that meets in our house fortnightly.  A previous generation may have called it a “bible study”.  I don’t really see it that way.  We meet, we eat, we talk about what is going on.  We read books and essays and blogs.  We watch films and listen to music and share ideas.  We try to equate that with reading the Bible and what is being presented at church.  We go off on tangents and often are still chatting, snacking, laughing and sharing ideas until close to midnight or after.  Over the past two years the people that have met in our home have become really important to me.  Our house feels like theirs.  The group operates as a collective and I think we all feel protective of it.  We have become good friends.  We have found it easy to establish trust, to be open and frank and vulnerable.  I really can’t imagine life without that group of very ordinary, and yet exceptional, individuals in my life.

This week we were discussing what our names meant.  I never knew there was a “man warrior” or a “battle hawk of the beloved happy field” sat around our table.  It struck me that each of our parents probably spent considerable time thinking about what name to give us, just in the same way that my wife and I probably spent hours over a period of six months discussing possible names for the baby that was growing inside her.  Those of you who know the writer behind this blog, know that I am generally known by a nickname which is an amalgam of my first and middle names.  It resulted from the minister making a mistake during our wedding vows and it has stuck ever since and I love it.  A wedding and a Christening rolled into one, if you like.

At small group this week, we discussed a story in Genesis 32 where Jacob was journeying across the ford of Jabbok.  He passed his wives, servants and possessions across the stream ahead of him and was left alone.  Then a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that it was wrenched. 

Then the man said, “let me go, for it is daybreak.” 

Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 

The man asked him, “What is your name?” 

In the ancient Near East your name was identity.  Your name told people who you were.  Could the question the man asked actually be read, “Who are you?” 

Three small words that we spend so much of our time grappling to find the answer to.

We all have pasts, families and places we have come from, things we’ve done, mistakes we’ve made.  What we have done and where we have been has shaped us into who we are today.  We need to accept and embrace our story, our history.  We don’t have to be proud of it, but we have to claim it as ours.

I wrestle daily.  I would rather journey forward with a limp like Jacob than walk somewhere comfortably in blind faith. 

This is part of the state that I am in. 

And, no, Destiny’s Child are not on my iPod.

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8 Responses to “Say My Name”


  1. 1 Lincoln July 14, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Welcome to the world of blogging. That’s an extreme closeup. Is this a theme?
    Whatsyourpoint has a similar close picture…

  2. 2 brunettekoala July 14, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I wonder if our name still is our identity. For instance, part of my identity is that I am scottish, and my surname shows that without having to even meet me.

    I think the difficulty is wrestling with the names and words and lies spoken over us. And as you say embracing our identity and just going for it – being worshippers in the way God created us to be!

  3. 3 thestatethatiamin July 14, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks for the comments. Good to know my thoughts are finding a home and maybe resonating somewhere. I always found it weird when the bible says “to consider it pure joy when trials and persecution come your way” (or words to that effect). Sure, life hasn’t always been peachy, but I am increasingly aware of how God has guided me through, even in the times when I wasn’t (amn’t)walking as close to Him as I should (could) have been. Still limping and discovering how my journey thus far has shaped me.

  4. 4 anna July 24, 2008 at 4:38 am

    hi! it’s good to read your blog. i do love the band name ‘the innocence mission’…i didnt realise any other people this side of the atlantic knew them…i think they are beautiful.

  5. 5 thestatethatiamin July 24, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Thanks for your comments. I never know where my musings land in the blogosphere. Yeah, The Innocence Mission make beautiful music and I only recently discovered that they share my faith. Just checked your blog. Someone else in MBC with a surfboard?

  6. 6 anna July 25, 2008 at 11:59 am

    hi. yeah i have a borad but it is back home in ireland. maybe ther should be an mbc surfing group…wqould be nice to have some fellowship out on the water! do you go much in scotland…when i am back i would very much enjoy going into the scottish sea..if there is any swell at this time of year.

  7. 7 thestatethatiamin July 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    An MBC surf posse sounds like agood idea. I don’t know any other surfers at church, although when I first met Mr Crooks a few years back it was based upon the fact that he was commenting on my Surfers Against Sewage hoodie and I was commenting on his Biffy Clyro t-shirt. How surface and shallow? dOn’t know if he fancies heading out some time, but got the impression he used to do a bit in Ireland.

    I don’t get out on my board that often due to juggling the demands of modern life, but often I am also put off by not knowing for sure that others will be out there. I tend to try and pair my sessions with when I know Sam’s school will be out in the water too.

    I tend to surf at Belhaven and have met most folks through Sam and the c2c surf school. If there are a few MBC surfers, newbees or wannabees – then it would be good to get a list and see who wants to go. I get swell reports to work every couple of days and am always happy to strap the boards to the roof and drive (but as I say always dependent on other commitments).


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