This Woman's Walk: A New Name

Submitted December 23, 2013

This Woman
Source: Stockbyte/Thinkstock

While watching a BT Daily recently, I stopped and thought back through the years to an afternoon in a park. I was sitting on a bench next to my then-fiance, David. We were having one of many conversations about how we thought our marriage would work. In this particular conversation, I had stated that once we were married, I would like my name to be hyphenated.

I wanted to be Joy Elliott-Jones. I liked the ring of it. It sounded modern, and suited the woman that I wanted to be: headstrong, independent, career-focused, making my own way. The truth was that I was not ready to give up my own personal identity to take up that of another. I liked being an “Elliott”. I didn’t want to surrender completely to becoming a wife. I wanted to hold onto who I had been and keep it with me in our marriage. In my head, marriage looked less like “two becoming one” and more like “two remaining two, but sharing living space.”

I explained my rationale with arguments about my upcoming career, my personal identity, and my right to choose what my name should be. To my ears, my points seemed so reasonable! After I had spoken for what seemed like a long time, I felt satisfied that he would understand and agree. I had made an impassioned argument and I felt confident that he would see my side. I was wrong.

When he did speak, though, he started by explaining that his family name was not one of which he was proud. His father had done a good deal to damage that name before abandoning the family that carried it. He had grown up on financial assistance, and he felt as though that label followed him and affected how people saw him.

David wanted to build and strengthen that name, and change what it meant to be a Jones. He wanted a wife who would stand beside him and help create that new meaning with him. He wanted a wife who would surrender her past identity as he surrendered his, to create a name that would be their own—a name worthy of praise.

I have been Joy Jones for nearly 18 years. I did surrender my “identity”, but as it turns out, taking my husband’s name was never about losing “me”. I am still me, but I am better-- I have my helpmate walking alongside me. Taking my husband’s name was not about losing myself, but simply a step in becoming his wife. There were so many more steps after that… learning to trust him, to depend upon him, to walk beside him through life’s storms and see myself as a part of him… as “two becoming one”. Those steps have not been easy, and I have stumbled my way through some of them. But now as I look back at our years together, I reflect on the effort I have seen him make to create a “new name” for himself and for our family. Today I can say, with complete conviction, that I bear my husband’s name with great love and pride.

What struck me this morning is that God is asking us each and every day to take His name and make it our own. His name is not one of which He is ashamed, and He doesn’t want us to be ashamed to wear it. He asks us to let go of our past identity and to surrender that “old man” to become all that He would have us to be: His beautiful bride.

God’s gift to us of His name is beautifully stated in the book of Isaiah: “…do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine…” (Isaiah:43:1) . God gives His name to us, and we have to take it and really make it our own. Just like I did in my own marriage, we will stumble at times, but our Beloved’s hand will be ready to pick us back up. I am living proof that there is truly beauty in the surrender to something greater.



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Sherrie G

Sherrie G's picture

I love this post! You speak to the heart of what it means to give up one's self to become a part of something greater. Not something less than you were but something more than you are. Thank you for writing this post and I hope the two of you have many more fulfilling years together.




EvanToledo

EvanToledo's picture

What a wonderful post!

Every once in a while I have those kind of realizations---it must
be God's Holy Spirit opening our minds to truth!

That is a perfect analogy for conversion: we take on the mind of
Christ and the character of our Father. His Spirit focuses the rest of how we live, think and relate to others.




Don Hooser

Don Hooser's picture

Joy, that is a beautiful story, especially since it's a true story with a deeply profound lesson. Thank you, thank you, for sharing those thoughts with all of us. And may God continue to greatly bless the Jones family as we strive to qualify for the new name God is giving us!




gonzolupe

gonzolupe's picture

As someone that has known you both for so many years, reading this made me love you two even more. I'm proud of you both is so many ways as I know our Father is proud of you too.

Continue your walk and keep that light of yours on a lamp stand.

Your brother, Lupe




Tammy Walston Vaught

Tammy Walston Vaught's picture

I agree with you on this article, and the 62 other people who like this on facebook, your reasons are heart felt, brave and true. I need to let go of the stigma's I fear, of certain last names, and that amounts to prejudices, and I'm sorry for that, and I repent of all wrong. If changing over entirely to my husband's last name will make God happier then I will do it.

You said that we have to take the name of God in marriage as well, surrendering to Him and to our mates.

I'm pretty sure that Jacob kept his name Israel, that God gave to him, with honor and dignity, and that the women of the Bible took their husbands names like you.

I use my name the way it is because of my son who was fatherless, I gave him my maiden last name Walston, I do it to give my second son a lineage after I'm gone from this world, you can imagine the reasons why I feel this way. I made a big mistake long ago when my sons were born, I was a single parent and not married when they were born, and my mother told me to give them both the same last name, I did not, I wished I had.

My sons need me and the connection in our name is one way I show piety at home, my children show piety towards me as well. I still do have my first born son and his last name is Smothers, he needs me too, but how to help him?

How do you help multi last name people who want to keep their name that way because it may mean a lot to their children?




linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Thank you so much for such a wonderful article. I have been wondering over the years what was motivating women to hold onto their maiden names. Now I can understand what their thinking was through your experience.

To become one with Christ, we need to "let go" of our self identity and take over his! A name identifies someone and when we belong to Christ, then we belong to God! To become one with Christ, our human spirit needs to submit to the Spirit of Christ. When our change comes, we will receive a new name. We will become one with God, and will be like Jesus Christ.




Dale Bissessar

Dale Bissessar's picture

Joy,
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic. My wife took my name without any hesitation. But I always wondered what my reaction would have been had she wanted to keep her maiden name. You introduced wonderful concepts such as submission, oneness and trust which are ingredients in all successful marriages. These are things that all couples need to consider as they prepare for marriage.

I also enjoyed your analogy of us taking on our heavenly Father's name which was a powerful reminder of another aspect of our great calling at this time. I never associated a wife taking on her husband's name with all Christians taking on God's name.

Thanks for sharing. It was very inspiring.




betty kioko

betty kioko's picture

Thanks Joy. You have opened my eyes on the analogue between husband and wife and Christ and the church. We have to put away the old self and adopt the new self with a new name, a new identity.

It is good to know that as a wife will still think about her maiden name once in a while, we as Christians will once in a while think of our old identity but we must remember our new identity.
We must strive on knowing that our Lord and Master is with us all the way.

Once again thank you for the eye opener.




Deborah K

Deborah K's picture

By the hand and from the heart of a very wise women. Thank you Joy.



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