We were naming the names we didn’t like.
“I don’t like the name Megan,” he told me.
“I don’t like the name (insert-name-of-girl-I’m-Facebook-friends-with-so-I-can’t-mention-her-name-or-she-might-take-offense),” I told him with a wrinkle of my nose.
I don’t actually know if I wrinkled my nose, but as a writer I’m supposed to add flair. And I truly feel as if a wrinkle of my nose is a possibility.
He named off a few more and I named off a few more, back and forth.
“I don’t like the name Amanda,” he said smugly.
And he really was smug about it. No flair.
“Well, I don’t like the name (insert-name-of-person-I-refuse-to-name),” I retorted.
“You actually know my name?” he asked with mock sarcasm, “I bet if I sent someone in here to work for me, you wouldn’t even notice.”
And that’s where all my friends would pee themselves laughing.
“Well if I ever sent anyone in to work for me, you’d actually have to work,” I replied dryly.
The conversation moved on to meanings of names, with him telling me how awful the meaning of his name was, “My parents are like, ‘No, no it means strong and manly.’ Please. It means—.”
I laugh, “Yeah, I’ve always liked what my name means.”
“What does it mean?” he asked.
The question made me stop and answer him seriously, awkwardly trying to seem apathetic to the meaning. “Worthy of love,” I said quietly.
This is a story I never thought I’d tell, but it meant something to me. He was the tip of the iceberg when it came to facing my own darkness, the ever-growing presence that I ran from. Looking back from my perspective, it seems wrong that there was any form of friendship there, ever. But there I was, telling him that I was supposed to be worthy of something.
And when I was tossed into the battle, I came out wounded. There were casualties. There was powerful darkness. But I couldn’t run from it this time. This time, I had to sort out in my own mind who I was and what my problems were. I cut my hair because I needed to be removed from the person I was but she was still etched into the dark corners of my mind, shooting arrows.
And, I’ll be honest with you. . .my name took a hit. I mean, there had to be a better name for someone like me, right? Like Bertha. Or Fanny. Or Ouiser.
. . .yes, I watched Steel Magnolias this weekend. With pride.
I’ve associated a lot of things with the name Amanda: the color pink, grace, elegance, poise, beauty.
And Mandie. . .that is the name I’ve worn like a paint-covered pair of sweat pants. Amanda is the little black dress everyone shows off; Mandie is the pair of fat jeans tucked away in the back corner of your closet. Amanda exudes beauty and never pees herself laughing. Mandie thinks overalls are kinda cool and freaks out because a new Star Wars movie is coming out. Amanda takes on problems with grace and strength. Mandie muddles her way through problems, somehow ends up on the other side, and says, “LET’S GO AGAIN.”
AND WORDPRESS WANTING TO CHANGE MANDIE TO MADDIE IS PROVING MY POINT FOR ME.
But whether I feel like an Amanda or a Mandie. . .other names, which deserve no capitalization at all, find their way to me and latch on: fat. awkward. pointless. weird. ugly. stupid. failure. jealous. messy. worthless.
And the age-old Edenic question quietly interjects, “Who told you that?” Who said we were any of those things? We were never meant to live like this. We were never meant to be overcome with names that told us we were anything but loved, worthy, and beautiful in the eyes of the One who fell so deeply in love with the idea of us that He died so that we could live. Of course there are things we could be labeled and not all of those things are good things. But those bad things? Those only make up pieces of who we are. They do not detract from worth.
So you out there? You’re deeply and completely loved. No matter where you’ve been–no matter what darkness comes knocking at your door, you have intrinsic value.
Loved. Worthy. Beautiful. Put it on repeat in your mind. Write it onto slips of paper and stick it in your pocket. Write it onto your very skin.
Heck, get a tattoo. Just don’t forget it.