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The Lochs

BY YON BONNIE BANKS AND YON BONNIE BRAES

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

Early in the morning I walked up to the nearest ‘Passing Place’ above Inversnaid hotel to enjoy the view across Loch Lomond and the forest where feral goats were grazing. I then explored the other side of the hotel walking up to the bridge where it crosses the stream and the waterfall flows into the Loch. On the bridge was an ‘In memory of’ plaque of someone who had ‘crossed over to the other side’ so fitting.  It was difficult terrain to reach the last few steps to get level with the bridge to cross over the deep ravine, a reminder that the last stage of life can be the most difficult. This was where William Wordsworth penned “The Highland Maid,” a love poem to a woman he was smitten with in this place.

Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And thee, the spirit of them all! 
(At Inversneyde, upon Loch Lomond)

Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head:
And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
This fall of water that doth make
A murmur near the silent lake;
This little bay; a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy Abode—
In truth together do ye seem
Like something fashioned in a dream;
Such Forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares are laid asleep!
But, O fair Creature! in the light
Of common day, so heavenly bright,
I bless Thee, Vision as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart;
God shield thee to thy latest years!
Thee, neither know I, nor thy peers;
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away:
For never saw I mien, or face,
In which more plainly I could trace
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here scattered, like a random seed,
Remote from men, Thou dost not need
The embarrassed look of shy distress,
And maidenly shamefacedness:
Thou wear’st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a Mountaineer:
A face with gladness overspread!
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
With no restraint, but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach

Of thy few words of English speech:
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind—
Thus beating up against the wind.

What hand but would a garland cull
For thee who art so beautiful?
O happy pleasure! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell;
Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality:

Thou art to me but as a wave
Of the wild sea; and I would have
Some claim upon thee, if I could,
Though but of common neighbourhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see!
Thy elder Brother I would be,
Thy Father—anything to thee!
Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place.
Joy have I had; and going hence
I bear away my recompense.
In spots like these it is we prize

Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:
Then, why should I be loth to stir?
I feel this place was made for her;
To give new pleasure like the past,
Continued long as life shall last.
Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And thee, the spirit of them all!

William Wordsworth

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Paddle steamers were the mode of transport in the old days so the original roads around Loch Lomond were very busy; there was a stage coach service from Inversnaid in those days when Queen Victoria travelled by paddle steamer. The steamer “Princess May” in 1812 built by David Napier and the “Marion” used to chug their way up and down the Loch. General Wolfe and the Duke of Montrose both had stayed in this area.

Not far from Loch Lomond is Lake Katrine which we visited. The first steam powered boat on Lake Katrine was the “Rob Roy” followed by the “Sir Walter Scott” in 1901. Queen Victoria had opened the valves of Loch Arklet which is the header tank to Lake Katrine which has been supplying water since 1851.

We chugged our way down Lake Katrine, the throb of the engines and lapping of water in the wake of the “Sir Walter Scott,” which still had its original engines, fuelled now by diesel and not wood. We stood gazing at the highland cattle grazing on the open hillsides as the sun briefly lit up the dark rolling hills with their forest fringe and grey granite rocky outcrops. We chugged the length of the Loch from Stronachlachar to where the coaches were waiting for us at the Trossachs Pier. A variety of pines and birches and grew down to the water’s edge with luxuriant moss and ferns growing on the trees and on the banks.

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This area is full of stories of the legendary Rob Roy who was held a prisoner on one the islands. Sir Walter Scott wrote “The Lady of the Lake” and “Rob Roy”, making this area famous.  The original Drovers Route was made into a toll road by the Duke of Montrose and is now called the Duke’s Pass. We drove past Loch Achray, the cottage gardens along the route ablaze with colour and perennial borders.  The slopes down to Loch Venachar had open fields dotted with clumps of sedge grasses with sheep and cattle grazing amongst them.  The Rob Roy and Trossachs Walking Trail are in this area and walkers often overnight at Inversnaid. We stopped at Callander which meant, ‘road to the beach’ our driver told us, according to the geology of the area: the Highland Boundary Fault is near here. We stopped for lunch at a small café where we ate soup and bread. The High Street was very pretty with a river at running at the bottom with a lovely bridge and picnic area.

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We drove through the bracken clad hillsides of Strathshyre where foxgloves poked their head out of the greenery on the verges and hillsides.  In the past villages were built to discourage the clans from living in the hills and to make them a community in the villages where it would be easier to have control over them. We passed the viaducts of the old railway which was closed due to a rock fall, the site was declared unstable by geologists and was not repaired.  We drove through open meadowlands with buttercups and daisies, then on through LIX, which was named after the Roman 59th Legion which was stationed in the area.  A lot of the roads in Scotland were military roads, to enable troops to move quickly from one area to another.  We went past the old tollhouse on the way to Killen and the Dochart Falls, where we stopped off for a while to view the falls and the grave of the McNab family. The couple who sat at my table were McNabs so they took some photos and were obviously interested in this piece of history.  The old water Mill on the river (see photos) still turned as the waters flowed through it. The bridge over the river Dochart was a very narrow stone bridge which would only take traffic one way at a time.  I walked over the bridge to see a long stretch of very pretty rapids and falls as they chattered over the rocks and flowed away under the bridge.  I stood there meditating on the water that flows under the bridge which cannot return, I thought one has to keep going with the flow, not to try and swim upstream again; you can only cross over the bridge and move on.

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Rob Roy was a cattle drover, he became very successful and owed three properties along Loch Lomond.  The drovers used to travel great distances, so there was a system of Drovers Inns along the route. Not only did they drive cattle, but also carried money and documents (same idea as couriers today).  They were able to carry weapons to protect themselves so they would stay at a Drovers Inn, the one on the main road along Loch Lomond was built in 1705. Everybody behaved like Rob Roy in those days, it was not just him and his clansmen, one must not judge the past by today’s standards. He died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder,   We also went past the Pulpit Rock, which was a large rock with a niche cut out of it.  The law required that people had to attend Church on Sundays, and the nearest church was at Tabor, which took about 7 hours to reach, so the people made this an outdoor church in 1850.  There was also an entrepreneur who set up a stall at the back of the rock to sell whiskey and cheese!  There were probably as many people on both sides of the rock! The narrow road was upgraded to Arlui, extending over the Loch in places.  A new church was built at Arlui, to replace the Pulpit Rock but this also fell into disrepair and was later turned in to a home.

We arrived at Inveruglas in time to catch the “Loch Lomond” back to Inversnaid for dinner after an interesting day exploring Rob Roy country.

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Uncategorized

GENERATIONAL TRAUMA AND WOUNDS

My Grandparents

This blog is part of a challenge in Welcome to my World and to answer the question today, “what was the first thing I thought about when I woke up?” I was woken rather early by a neighbor’s phone ringing. As it was so early I hoped it was not bad news. My mind went straight back to the time my father woke me up early to tell me my cousin had been killed in a road accident. This was a very traumatic event for our whole family and will have a lasting effect on our generation and quite possibly the next generation or two as we process emotions that run deep when triggered by something like an early phone call.

Grief photo from Unsplash

Numbers 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’

Native Americans have a seven-generation principle, that the decisions that are made today need to be weighed in the light of their effect over the next seven generations. Today we are living with the previous seven generations’ decision-making. This principle is also Biblical when it is stated that the fathers’ sins reach the third and fourth generation, a generation can be between 20 to 30 years, and a Biblical one 35 years, so we are looking at about 200-250 years down the line.

Navajo Basket with Corn seed

The French Revolution

My interest in history around two hundred years ago during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars stems from the fact my ancestors left Europe to make a better life for themselves in 1820 in South Africa with the 1820 Settlers. My research has taken me down many fascinating research roads. Joseph Scherer, the brother of Bartholomey Louis Joseph Scherer, one of Napoleon’s generals but one of the old guard. They fell out over strategy for logistics. His brother, Joseph, our ancestor, left France to go to England. I knew he was French at heart as he named his daughter Marianne, which symbolized the attachment of the common French citizens of the revolution to the Republic – Marianne stands for liberty, equality, and fraternity. When Marianne and James Smith married, their first child was named Sarah Fish, I thought this was a most extraordinary name until I found a reference to Sarah Fish around the same time who was a radical Quaker abolitionist and advocate for the Native people in America, and it then made sense to me. The Revolution had cut deep into the family, and they were showing solidarity with just causes in the names they chose for their children.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Retracing the family history were many threads of trauma over the following generations in Africa, both familial and institutional. The Settlers were abandoned in Africa by the British after arriving there, and they suffered greatly.

Bessel Van der Kolk, a Dutch Psychiatrist, and researcher in post-traumatic stress wrote a book called “The Body Keeps the Score,” in which he says “the ability to feel safe is probably the most important aspect of mental health. When we grow up with family dynamics that make us feel unsafe, invalidated in our feelings and experiences, we can struggle to move past our personal and familial trauma.” We also know we are connected to our past through our DNA, and this trauma has been stored in the very cells of our bodies.

“The ability to feel safe is probably the most important aspect of mental health. When we grow up with family dynamics that make us feel unsafe, invalidated in our feelings and experiences, we can struggle to move past our personal and familial trauma.”

Bessel van de Kolk

Living with War

My interest in the times’ social history has enabled me to try and live in my ancestor’s shoes to see the world as they experienced it. I can imagine that they did not feel safe most of the time, from the generations since the French Revolution, through the Native Wars, Boer Wars in South Africa, the two World Wars, right up to my generation with the Bush War in Rhodesia. Replicate that on a worldwide scale with other families, editing the countries and the wars they went through, we are now reaping the crisis of the seventh-generation decisions in mental health that plague the population as the trauma of each generation build on the previous generation.

We may respond in a certain way to stimuli when we are dealing with issues that need to be examined. Are we are repeating our parents’ and grandparents’ behavior. We may have been taught to respond in a particular way or react in a certain manner. If we can understand the meaning of the trauma fully, we can heal from it. It is not always a problem we have created for ourselves.

I have identified one particular generational trauma both my sister and I have embedded in our DNA. We both have an overwhelming fear of snakes, more than a normal person would have. Our Great Grandmother Jessie Orchard was blinded by a Ringhals snake (similar to a cobra) when she chopped off its tail instead of its head with an ax, and it turned around and spat her in the eye, blinding her for life. This event in our family history has given us a hypersensitivity to an image of snakes or, heaven forbid, coming across one in the wild.

beige python on brown branch of tree
Photo by Worldspectrum on Pexels.com

How are we going to heal from all this generational trauma? I don’t know the answer – but with more research and more understanding, self-care, and caring for others, we need to find the way. Bessel van der Kalk says that our homes should be a ‘safe place’ where we can feel loved, where someone can hold us and calm us down when we come home from a traumatic day at work. When our homes are not safe places, it becomes difficult to heal as domestic violence adds trauma to trauma as often there is no escape for women and children. When the church is not the refuge we had hoped for and adds to the abuse, we have nowhere to turn. We need the safe space of home, relaxation, and touch. We need to have our bodies calm down with a soft touch or massage. We need the sound of a soft voice to soothe us, to let us be safe just as we are and who we are. We all have the power to make those around us feel safer. When we can make people feel safe, protected, and loved, we are already on the pathway to healing those around us and the society in which we live.

our homes should be a ‘safe place’ where we can feel loved, where someone can hold us and calm us down when we come home from a traumatic day at work.

Bessel van der Kalk

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you have anything that triggers generational trauma? Please comment below, and if you have not signed up to receive my newsletter, please take this opportunity to do so.

Divorce, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Uncategorized, Widowhood

HAVE YOU MET GOD THE MOTHER HEN?

As part of the Welcome to My World challenge, I am first answering this week’s question:

Q: What do you see as you look out of your window?

A: I look out of the window of my soul at the world of the past, the present, and the future. The past makes sense of the past, the present is part of the journey and the future is healed in God’s hands

This is probably one of the most difficult blogs I have ever written, but it is also part of my own healing journey. In my travels, I have come across so many spiritually and emotionally wounded women in the last decade, and like me, they are only now finding the courage to talk about it.

The remnants of a patriarchal mindset in the church and abuse of power have wounded so many women. When the Church should have been a refuge, it became the instrument of abuse using Scriptures as a weapon to beat women into submission in what today is named domestic abuse. I am writing this from a woman’s perspective as that is who I am, but I am sure that many men could also claim those wounds.

“Trauma is a deep wound of the heart and mind that takes a long time to heal. It hurts every part of us: our relationships, our bodies, our thoughts, and our faith.”

I am a great student of social history, especially the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, American Revolution, and British Colonialism, as they are all interrelated in one way or another and have influenced my own family history and so many others. The British legal and parliamentary system they brought with them made laws that disadvantaged women and others not belonging to the ‘system.’ British law stated that in marriage, a man and a woman were one person – the legal existence of a woman was suspended during the marriage as she was meant to be under his protection and cover. He could take all her dowry to spend as he liked. According to their dowries, women were ‘traded,’ father’s marrying off their daughters to their own political or financial advantage. Women were not able to vote to change the ‘system,’ and it took Emily Pankhurst (the suffragette movement was the Woman’s Revolution) and others more than fifty years to finally get the right to vote in 1920.

Photo Annie Spratt from Unsplash

Domestic Violence

This controlling role of men was also practiced in the Church by interpreting the Scriptures through their lens and insisting on their womenfolk submitting, by domestic violence or any other means at their disposal, including the church disciplinary systems. When this teaching has been instilled at an incredibly young age, a girl is brainwashed into thinking that they are an inferior person, subject to temptation (the Eve metaphor) or the temptress (the Bathsheba metaphor) but not the blessed woman (Jael). How many teachings have you ever received on Jael? Unrealistic standards set by the application of the example of the Proverbs 31 woman can lay the foundation for systemic shame and never being good enough. This teaching on the place of women at home, the church, and society when not applied with the second half of the teaching, the way that Jesus treated women, the Samaritan woman, Mary Magdalene, and his own mother Mary, failed women in giving them an earthly role model of Father. The teaching as God the Father, angry, punitive, and ready to judge and cast you into hell, reinforced this belief, disconnecting woman from a loving God, one who was their Creator, protector, provider, and friend.

It has taken me most of my life to reconnect with this Father, the Creator, the Good Shepherd, the mother hen God who shelters and protects in the shadow of His wings. It has taken time to deconstruct the angry God and reconstruct the loving God, who protects, provides, and is the lover of my soul. How have I been able to do this?

It has taken me most of my life to reconnect with this Father, the Creator, the Good Shepherd, the mother hen God who shelters and protects in the shadow of His wings. It has taken time to deconstruct the angry God and reconstruct the loving God, who protects, provides, and is the lover of my soul. How have I been able to do this?

Mother hen with chicks photo by K Kannan Unsplash

It has been a long journey of questioning everything I was taught and reviewing it in contemplative prayer, and revisiting ancient and modern teachers and historical contexts. It is by checking against Scripture, and if it is not clear, referring to how Jesus would have seen it and dealt with it. There are only two Commandments, “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.

The Golden Rule….

In other words, treat people how you yourself would like to be treated. Just as important, was to sit quietly with God in nature and in Art Galleries, letting Him reveal Himself and His truth to me. It was learning to hear His voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, as He called my name. I was never taught how to listen for my name. The system had taught me I was nameless, always referred to as my father’s daughter. I was called my nicknames but not often my given name, Deryn. When I found out its meaning of ‘little bird’, it was a liberation. I was able to fly out of the cage in which I had been entrapped for so long. I could sit on a branch and observe for myself, think for myself, and I could sing my new song.

Sketched in an Art Gallery

Reading good books has helped in reconstructing the image of a loving Father God and the research that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich put into her book “Good Wives- Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750,” helped to clarify the patriarchal thinking of the church in their era which has filtered down through the centuries. A modern book by Carol Howard Merritt on her journey from the teaching at Moody Bible College to her liberation from the spiritual woundedness caused by domestic violence in her family, “Healing Spiritual Wounds,” confirmed the importance of Creator God, creativity in the arts, and reconnecting with a loving God through Contemplative prayer.

Listen to Keynote speaker DrDiane Langberg who is a practicing psychologist whose clinical expertise includes 35 years of working with trauma survivors and clergy. She speaks at an international Conference Church as a Refuge in June.

It is my desire to be a sounding board for those who struggle in this arena of patriarchy and spiritual abuse both as domestic violence and in the church, so they can find their way to peace under the soft feathers of the wings of their loving Father God. If this resonates with you, please contact me via the Contact button.

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Uncategorized

WHERE AND WHEN IN HISTORY YOU WERE YOU BORN MATTERS.

Victoria Falls Bridge

Does it matter where you were born, the place, and time in history?  Time, location, and culture affect the way we view things and how we think. We often make assumptions based on our values shaped by that time and place and our groups’ influences. It can have a lasting impact on your life, where you were born, also the time slot in history.

The prophecy of where Christ would be born was made centuries before.  Messiah would be born in Bethlehem in Judea, not in Jerusalem or even Nazareth, his parents’ hometown.  His birth centuries later was a turning point in history, with our calendar becoming AD and not BC. The prophets inspired by the Holy Spirit thought it necessary to record this in Scripture so that people could pinpoint that moment and KNOW that Jesus was the Messiah.

William Wilberforce

Other important people were born into history who took their place as people who changed society, transforming it through their life and work. One of these was William Wilberforce, who stood alone at times in the British Parliament advocating abolishing slavery. Yet his stand was the beginning of the dismantling of slavery as it was then. Another reformer born in that era was John Howard, who reformed the British prison system after being imprisoned in a French prison.  His personal experience drove him to advocate for humanitarian reforms of the British prison system. Each century has had people who were critical catalysts for change in their lifetimes.

Each century has had people who were critical catalysts for change in their lifetimes.

Two people born into modern history have also influenced society and brought about changes to unjust systems. Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela both fought for and brought about changes in the laws governing racial injustice in their lifetimes. Others were born into time slots in history that brought about chaos and suffering for people during their time and position in history, like Napoleon and Adolf Hitler. Leaders who held the upper hand often created a time of trials and suffering for another group of people that they may not even have known or cared less.

Rhodesia Collage DvdTang

Two such people influenced the times I was born into, Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister, and Ian Smith, a farmer. Ian Smith became Prime Minister of Rhodesia and declared Unilateral Independence in 1965. At stake was a small landlocked country in the heart of Africa, founded by Cecil John Rhodes in 1885, only sixty years before I was born. Part of the colonial push into Africa by the British Empire during the Scramble for Africa. The European nations were greedy for Africa’s vast mineral wealth and resources to rebuild their economies after wars and a long depression. These colonies were ideal places to send the unemployed population and explorers who would, in turn, remit valuable resources back to their home countries. Initially, the country was under the British South Africa Company’s occupation. It became the self-governing British Crown Colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923, just twenty-three years before I was born.

Both sets of my grandparents ended up in Rhodesia: my mother’s father, an engineer, after the First World War, and my father’s parents, South African farmers who wanted a new life after the Boer War, WW1, and personal farming failures. My parents met and married in 1945, just after the end of WW2. This vignette sets the stage for the time and place in history I was born into the following year.

A limited education system had been put in place in the few towns by the time I was due to go to school.  ‘School on the Air’ was broadcast over the local radio station, with study material sent through the post and once a term visit to the town to meet the Headmistress, to meet the needs of children further afield. It was a Homeschooling system for most children who had access to the radio. Not unlike today, when children are educated at home through the internet, those who do not have access are disadvantaged. There was no socialization for children, and being the eldest, no friends for play. The arrival of next-door neighbors with school-going children facilitated me going to school in town for a year as our parents could do lift share to get us to and from school. I did not know how to socialize with other children but having a neighbor my age helped me settle down, and we become lifelong friends. Another influence was my parent’s fundamentalist church, giving me a skewed view of God and Christianity.

Ian Douglas Smith (photo Ministry of Information)

Our education was always in the pioneering stage, as we moved to a new school being created the following year in our area. The school started in a church hall on the bare concrete floors, a class in each corner of the hall.  The Headmaster, a Welshman, his wife, and a Scottish lady were our teachers. By the time the school building was ready the following year, we were behind in English and Mathematics. After we moved into the new school building, the Headmaster continued to teach our class and do his job as Headmaster at the same time. He told us to go to the stockroom, take out a book, and sit under the trees to read! We spent most of our Primary School years reading books under the trees. By the time we got to high school, we were very well-read but not necessarily educated in grammar or mathematics matters.

My formative years were the years that the Winds of Change were blowing through Africa, with political unrest in the former colonies.  I was taught to view the world through this lens.

Through travel and living in other countries, and meeting people of different races, cultures, and languages, I learned there were so many ways to look at social issues applicable to their time and history situation.  I have learned to question a lot of the assumptions and ideas that I had been taught. I attended churches with different approaches to God and Christianity.  I allowed God to show me who He was so that my experience could align with what the psalmist says “God alone provides security, safety and prosperity” Ps 147:13-14. My image of God no longer mirrored the paternal teachings of fundamentalism.

I allowed God to show me who He was so that my experience could align with what the psalmist says “God alone provides security, safety and prosperity” Ps 147:13-14. My image of God no longer mirrored the paternal teachings of fundamentalism.

We may not make the impact that great men like Wilberforce and Nelson Mandela made during our lifetime, but there is a reason that we were placed in this time in history and born to our parents in the place we were. Like Paul mentions in Acts 13:36, “after David had served his generation according to the will of God, he died…..”  How can we best serve our generation? For me, that is to write and paint, sharing the compassionate, caring heart of God, through nature, through contemplative prayer and meditations.  I hope I can inspire others in their life’s journey through my journey and what is required to get to this place of respite.

How can we best serve our generation?

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Uncategorized

YOUR IDENTITY, WHAT IS IN A NAME?

In my last blog, I chatted about the time and place we were born into in History. For every baby born the year of COVID, the parents spent time and thought finding a name they wanted to call their child.  With great care, they chose a name befitting the new arrival.  The name they choose will be the identifier for the child their entire life. Once their name is recorded in the State Birth’s and Death’s register, all documents relating to that tiny person will use that name and number from then on.  The name can only be changed by marriage or a petition for a change of name with the court system.

Hopefully, the child will like their chosen name. Some parents can give their child a name that provokes other children and people to tease them, causing great distress.  Other parents must use the grandparents’ names as a second name; this was common practice in previous generations. Naming a child well is a responsibility parents need to take seriously, as it can cause unforeseen consequences in the future for that child.  Every era has its favorite names, and there will be a whole crop of Jason’s or Amelia’s in a particular year.  Then there are the ‘old fashioned’ names like Gladys (my grandmother) or Mabel, seldom used today.

There are deeper levels that name goes as well, and parents may well choose a name that befits the person they would like their child to grow up to be or characteristics. For instance, the name Philip means a lover of horses. Do all Philip’s love horses? Not at all, but the name originated from Greek and meant the same in several different languages. Whole webpages and books are dedicated to finding a name for your child, and according to them, more classical and Biblical names are coming into favor for 2021. We want our children to embrace their uniqueness amongst all the noise of thousands of other children growing up within their generation.  

We want our children to embrace their uniqueness amongst all the noise of thousands of other children growing up within their generation.  

My parents named me after Deryn Edmonds, the Church minister’s daughter, who married them and served as their bridesmaid.  ‘Deryn’ has and continues to be an unusual name, often mistaken for Darren, which is a more popular name.   I had many problems at school with teachers who did not know it, and I was invariably asked to spell it. People mispronounced it. Often, I would end up answering to anything that began with a D. Children would tease me, calling me horrible names that started with D, like Derelict; even my parents would call me other nicknames, and so my name became something that I loathed.

It was only many years later when I found out that Deryn meant ‘Little Bird’ in Welsh, that I started to appreciate it and all that it stood for.  A little bird has freedom; it can fly, choose to move away from danger, is independent, and does not enjoy being in captivity, so the name became ‘Freedom’ for me.  An artist friend of mine gave me a lovely piece of Calligraphy to remind me that “the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17) Knowing this made all the difference, from a name that was a curse to a name that I could fully embrace and rejoice that God knew that was the best name for me. So my mission became telling others that they can have true freedom in their spirit even though others want to enslave them to legalism, or they feel imprisoned in a life they did not choose or the world around them that may be in total lockdown.

God has promised us that He would be giving us a new name.

Better still, God has promised us that He would be giving us a new name. Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it. (Rev 2:17).

Even when our names do not give us joy when we feel they mean ‘derelict,’ our new name will have the secret meaning of ‘delight’ as we know the Lord delights in us and will give a new meaning to our name when He claims us as His own.

Are you happy with the name your parents chose for you?

Do you know what your name means?

What does knowing that God will give you a new name look like to you?

How can you live in the power of your new name?