Names are such an interesting part of life. I’ve never really felt that my name holds any identity to who I am as a person. Until recently…
You see, my whole life I went by “Jon”. Along the way I gained a plethora of nicknames including: McGillicuddy, Shanny, Shanamontanigans (spell check that) and a ton more I can’t think of at 1:42am. McGillicuddy reminds me of being a little kid and my mom yelling that when I got into trouble. “Shanny” is what all of my friends on the North Shore call me. And… well… Shanamontanigans was made up by my best friend back in Boston.
My full name is Jonathan Philip Shanahan, but I wasn’t born with that name. When I turned 18 I decided to change my last name from Dooley to Shanahan. I was born Jonathan Philip Dooley. I had the nickname “Dooley” my entire life. I still have friends to this day that know me as “Dooley”. I never thought it meant anything until I rethought my reasons for changing my name.
Names hold a lot of weight. Obviously there are names we are called and teased with that bring pain. But then there are others that our closest friends call us by. I remember growing up disliking my middle name. I recently found out that Philip means “lover of horses” which made me start to not like it even more. I changed my last name because I didn’t want to be associated with my father anymore. I took the name of my step-father because he was a man that I entered my life at a meaningful time and I wanted to honor him.
The God factor plays a huge part into this story. Regardless of what my first, middle, or last name is, I am still loved by a God that gives me identity. Recently I’ve been praying for God to give me new names. Not names that I will change to, but names that He sees in me. Words I get back frequently are: Able, Faithful, and Strong, All of those have TRUE identity.
My name was Jonathan Philip Dooley growing up. I grew to hate that name. I associated myself with the pains of my family. My middle name was after an uncle who was so far from the God that loved Him. My last name was my fathers last names. When my mom remarried the name “Dooley” started to remind me of pain that my father caused me growing up. However, simply changing my name doesn’t give me new identity anymore than changing my clothes does. God entered my life, and turned me around. He became my father. My pain was healed and my identity was restored.
When we allow God to speak into our lives we are able to grasp a little bit more of who he is. I struggle with insecurity sometimes – a lot of us do. By talking with God I am able to know how HE thinks of me. And that’s enough for me…
To know I am loved by a God who gives me the names listed above is enough. I am STRONG enough and ABLE to overcome anything that’s in front of me. I will remain FAITHFUL to Jesus. Because He gives me life. He’s worth it all. He’s bigger than anything in my past. And He guides my future.
My identity is in Christ.