We have a fantastic barn cat named Shadow John. He was born under a stack of fence boards and for a few weeks, we didn’t even know he was there because his solid black fur kept him hidden in the shadows. Thus, I named him Shadow. Nate wanted to name him John. We compromised. I’m not much of a cat person, but I do love Shadow John. He follows us from the barn to the house, he rides on my shoulder as I do chores, and loves to have his belly scratched. He hunts rodents, shares his food with the other cats, doesn’t bother the chickens, and is generally well liked by all our barn residents.
He is also, obviously, well-fed. He will disappear for days at a time and return looking glossy and a little heavier. It occured to me that he has another family or at least another barn that he frequents. And if he does, he probably has another name.
Which raised the question in my mind: How many names do I have? Shadow John is named because of his birth place, his coloring, and Nate’s affinity for the name John. At another barn, a little girl might name him Ebony or Sprinkles. A little boy might name him Oliver or Toothless. The quintessential cat-lady would name him Maverick.
What would different people name me based on what they know about me? I can think of a few that I would like and worry that a few others would be less than complimentary. The roles we play, the titles we have, the jobs, the skills, the personality...it all leads to a name, a label, an identity.
I am Jessica. Mom. Sister. Daughter. Friend. Teacher, writer, gardener. Despite the different roles I have in life with the people I am blessed to come into contact with, I pray that I am like my dad and my husband: Solid and trustworthy. I want to be like my mom, a fighter who is steadfast and faithful. Going strictly from appearances, I might be Blondy or Shorty or in the midst of a hot, summer day, Lobster.
Without guidelines on what I should be, who I should strive to become, and actions that would help me achieve that, I will fail. The guidelines of the world are insufficient and sourced on ego and achievements, not on loving others. The guidelines of the entertainment world are mostly beauty-driven avatar-like living, not seeing the divine beauty within each person. The guidelines we must continuously turn to are found in Sacred Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Now read through it again and place your name where the words ‘Love” or “it” appears. That is who we are made to be: patient, kind, joyful, humble, peaceful, part of a family, calm, forgiving, just, suffering, faithful, hopeful and courageous.