Nicknames and Blessings
My nickname growing up was "Birdlegs." It was bestowed upon me by a gruff grandpa who didn't know how to express affection. His best attempts were the call signs he gave to each one of his grandchildren. With my overly skinny body and complete lack of curves, the name was fitting, but never flattering. Have you ever looked at a bird's legs? Not pretty. And while it's true I wouldn't mind hearing that nickname now, with a not so skinny body and plenty of curves, it wasn't something I delighted in at the time.
It could have been worse, though, much worse. Many kids' nicknames
worse. And it doesn't stop at nicknames. Words, and the tone they're spoken in, have the power to profoundly wound. They leave marks that may not be visible to the eye, but shape the heart and form the lenses through which that little person will view themselves and the world around them.
Words have the power to label, and children must be labeled correctly. They must be identified by their strengths and not their weaknesses.
If we were to follow God's example, the labels we bestowed upon our kids would be blessings. When God gives a new name, it's always a step up. Abram the Father to Abraham the Father of Many. Jacob the Deceiver to Israel the Prince. Simon the Reed to Peter the Rock.
When our Father labels us, it's always for our good. It always calls us higher.
When people give names, it's usually an attempt to reduce in size or to remind everyone who hears of the person's failure in an embarrassing memory.
I want to be like my Father.
And so I choose to call my third born a warrior. Yes, there are days he fights for the wrong things and in the wrong way. That's why I'm here, to teach and keep on teaching, until he gets it right. But in the meantime, my words will remind him of his calling and not his shortcomings. I will praise him for the gifts God has placed in him to war for the underdog and to stand for what is right. I will teach him to use his strength to heal and not to wound.
And I will help him remember how God sees him.
Lord, make the words of my mouth be a blessing to those I speak to. May the names I give speak of the treasure I see in the people who bear Your image. Even when I speak to myself, may my pronouncements be those that build up, honor, and encourage. And when I can not see good to speak of, open my eyes and let me see what You see. And may Your words in my mouth bring healing. Amen.