Who are you?
In summer 2008, my now husband and I met in my favorite fast-food restaurant in Jamaica. My intention was to keep the conversation concise, reiterating to him the fact that we would never be anything more than just friends.
He told me his name and slipped me a note with his number to tell me how beautiful I was, after I finished draping him with colorful words for having noticed me in the first place. I suppose I could have withheld the urge, but I gave in to texting him a few weeks later, and a conversation ensued.
In my attempt to keep this situationship strictly platonic, when he asked my name, I told him “Teresa”. My name is Tamieka. My very close family and friends call me Jerresse. I thought Teresa would be easy to remember and was a good mix of both names that I would not forget just in case I ever passed him on the street, and he had to call me.
The Identification issue
I recently reached a sermon by Priscilla Shirer on The Issue of Identity. In her deliberation she shared how as a child growing up, she went through a phase where she no longer liked her name, so she told everyone to call her DK.
She shared how her parents did not mind it too much, her teachers, coaches and friends went along with it until one day she got sick, and her mother had to come get her at the nurse’s office. It took a considerable amount of time and a heavy dose of patience before her mother, flustered and bewildered, kept going back and forth asking for Priscilla and they kept saying she was not there- then realized she was in fact there, but under the wrong name.
Her mother waited a few days until she was well enough to have a talk with her, and advised her this “It doesn't matter what they call you. It doesn't even matter what you call yourself. Only the one that gives you life has the authority to identify you. And that is who you are.”
I almost did not respond the first time my husband’s niece called me auntie Teresa. The name caught on so much that his entire family only knows me by that name. I have not been able to run from it because by the time I confessed that he did not really know my name, he said “well, that’s not the name you told me when we met, I’m sticking to the name I know.”
Ten years of friendship and five years of marriage later, he and his immediate family still calls me Teresa.
The issue of identity plagues the world today, where people feel it is okay to “identify” as this or that, based on how they feel. Contrary to popular belief our identity has never been relative to feelings, but absolute to truth and facts.
The name we are given does not confer identity, neither does the name we are called. Our identity is found in the one who gives us life. God is the only one who has the authority to truly put the stamp of identity on us. Who He calls you is who you really are.
(1st John chapter 3, verse 1) says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Imagine that. Of all the names you could be called, you are called children of God. The creator of all things, the greatest of all, who is, was and is to come. The one who spans from eternity into time and back to eternity- calls you, His child.
In case we misunderstand the concept of being a child of God, He breaks it down more for us in His word. “His spirit dwells inside of you- you are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 16).“You are competent, not in your own abilities but because He made you competent by His spirit (2 Corinthians chapter 3, verses 5–6).“You are enabled to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians chapter 5, verses 22–23).
You may feel lonely sometimes, but you are never alone. “He will never leave you nor will He forsake you.” (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 5).“Your steps have been ordained and ordered by the Lord.” (Psalm chapter 37, verse 23).
“You are a necessary and useful part of the body of Christ, and you will use your spiritual gifts to edify others.” (1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 7).
“You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” (2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 21).“You have been given victory in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 57) “You have been made in the very image and likeness of God Himself. This is your heritage.” (Genesis chapter 1, verse 27)
“You have been chosen by God to bring forth fruit that shall remain.” (John chapter 15 verse 16). You are part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. You are one of God’s own people. (1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9)
Never lose sight of who you are
It is air to say life has a way of choking us with its woes and causing us to fall prey to the pity party of identity dysphoria. That is okay. You may have been called some names and even answered to some names too. That is also okay. What is never okay is that you lose sight of who you really are.
The next time you find yourself wondering if you are enough, remember that all good equipment come with a manual. The Bible has a plethora of references to keep us in line with what names we should be answering to and what labels we can give ourselves.
You may not believe it yet, so take it from me- you are not your name. Your true identity is wrapped up in everything that God says you are and yes, you are all that. I pray you never forget it.
Tamieka Pennant Dussard is a poet and writer, who has served in youth ministries mentoring young people both in Canada (current home) and Jamaica. She is the Director of “Young Wives Uncensored” a social organization which seeks to provide support and accountability to young, married women. She hopes to continue to use her gifts and experiences to motivate young people and share God with the world. She also enjoys cooking and sharing flexi-vegan recipes (IG: ltdkitchen)