So the other day I went to Panera with a good friend. At Panera they ask for your name. I have a very common Spanish name, Juanita, but if they’re not Spanish or familiar with Spanish names they assume it’s spelled with a W, and I get that above beauty written on my cup.
My childhood nickname is Ita and at this point only people who have known me a long time call me that. Fairly uninspired I was called that because my older brother couldn’t pronounce my whole name. It stuck. Even though at this point in life I prefer to be called Juanita, there’s a special connection (no matter how close we actually are) between me and those people who still only know me as Ita.
This summer working at the Girl Scout camp, I will be called Starlight. It’s a tradition of the camp, we don’t go by our real names, just camp names that we each choose. I chose starlight because I was wearing the star necklace my mom brought me back from Israel. It just adds that much more magic to camp.
I identify as a Christian and take on that name and label with pride. It’s a beautiful heritage that’s been passed down from way back when Christ ended his ministry and continues to unfold and unravel and reveal new things about those who identify as one who follows Christ.
I’m engaged and frequently niggle with the assumptions surrounding that label especially as a young woman. Assumptions my male fiance rarely has to deal with. Although thankfully no one assumed I was pregnant, at least not to my face. My maturity, independence, and ability to hear from God have been questioned though.
There’s quite a few other labels I have: woman, daughter, worker, writer, best friend, reader, nerd, blogger, introvert. And they all make up an integral part of me, they all come together to make up who I am.
I think one thing I really learned from college is that the only people who can define who you are are is God and yourself. God has already said so many things about me, I am loved, I am free, I am his/her holy child, I am his/her servant, I am creative, I am a new creation. And anything that contradicts what the Holy One has said is a lie. You go on a long journey through life helping others to find their identities in the One who created us and developing further into the truest reality of yourself. Sometimes we think the broken sinful things we fall into are who we are, but they’re just chains holding us back.
As I prepare to take on the name of Starlight once again, I am confident that no matter what I may be called my identity is secure, I am going to do a lot of things after college. I’ll go to new places, I’ll pick up new hobbies, I’ll learn new things, I’ll deepen my relationships and make some new ones, I will love and love and love, and I will always be me. I can always be secure in that, because God says that he/she made me who I am and it was good.