Reflections on my sixtieth birthday: reframing my name

Sixty years is one of those zero milestones, you know. So I’m remembering.

I remember when I was about 30, standing in the large auditorium of my fundamentalist church holding my baby, looking around at the people and thinking, “Where are all those older women who are supposed to be helping me?” They appeared to all be so busy with their own lives and activities.

Then I thought, “I want to become that woman. I want to be an older woman to help the younger.” I set my sights on the age of 50 to accomplish it. I planned out how I would study all the books of the Bible thoroughly by then so I would know the Word of God really well and could teach it. I would talk to younger women about how to keep a house clean and clutter-free, because surely by then I would have figured it out, I would have conquered that Goliath in my life.

These were sincere plans, even in some ways good-sounding plans, but they were self-focused and dependent on my own abilities. At that time I didn’t even really understand the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. (I’m still learning that!) Between the ages of 30 and 50 God sidetracked me and turned me inside out and upside down a few times. When I turned 50 I was still working through so much of my own stuff. But God was faithful and continues to be faithful, and that’s much of what I blog about.

There’s something else I remember.

I remember that as a young person I didn’t like my name. My sisters had names that meant “lady,” “little lamb,” and “princess.” My name? It meant “snare” or “restraint” or “binding.”

Great. Just great. It was some sort of curse, I thought. I had visions of deep dark pits with nets over them and bear claw traps and little bunnies with broken legs.

My mother tried to help me “reframe” the meaning of my name to see it as my “snaring” men with my beauty . . . but especially to a shy and awkward teenager, that just made me feel over the top uncomfortable.

But then in college a young man gave me a wise word, a word of hope about my name.

“I looked it up,” he said. “It means ‘snare’ or ‘fetter.’”

I shrugged slightly and looked down. “I know.”

He pressed on. “It reminded me of this song.”

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

 I looked at him as if he had just given me a precious gift.

He added, “So I see you kind of like a fetter to help bind people’s hearts to God.”

He couldn’t have possibly said anything to encourage me more. I don’t know where he is today, but if I could I would thank him, even now forty years later.

As I’ve become more aware of spiritual darkness and the spiritual battles that rage in the heavenlies—especially in interactions with two or three particular friends who are sex trafficking survivors—I’ve been learning more about how important it is for the hearts of those who have been shattered to be sealed—bound, held, even fettered—for His courts above.

This sealing for His courts above is impossible to accomplish through coercion or manipulation or threats. Instead, it is accomplished through love, and the loving offer of the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

It’s also accomplished through warfare prayer against the powers of darkness, something I’m still learning about. (In some ways I still feel like such a child.)

But the meaning of my name comes back to me.

Some people have been bound with ropes of lies, threats, confusion, and trauma. (In some cases physical ropes have been used, but some abusers are so expert at their mental manipulation that they don’t need those.) They have been bound and fettered with an identity—a name—that has cursed them and held them in bondage to darkness.

The rope with the millstone attached with which Jesus threatened anyone who hurt one of His little ones? Well, the ones who were hurt as little ones might sometimes think that they’re the ones who deserve to have that millstone tied around their own necks. . . . For no other reason than that they have been bound up with lies.

Instead of the binding of death, they need to know that the binding available to them is a binding of life, and life more abundant.

A couple of years ago as I was praying over this very kind of situation, an old song came to mind that reminded me of the song that reframed my name.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend; He loved me ere I knew Him,

He drew me with His cords of love and thus He bound me to Him.
For round my heart so closely twine those ties that none can sever
For I am His and He is mine for ever and for ever.

When I told one of my sex trafficking survivor friends about these songs and the meaning of my name—“reframed”—she reminded me of Psalm 147:3. “He heals the brokenhearted [the Hebrew language implies broken in the context of violence] and binds up their wounds.” She observed that the binding is intrinsic to the healing. 

Then she was reminded of Hosea 11:3-4, which says,

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms,
    but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love
.

“He came to bind the brokenhearted,” she said. “And He uses people to help with that.”

My name is Rebecca, and I am sixty years old. I look around at a house that is comfortably cluttered that no longer seems like a Goliath. I know now that there are far bigger Goliaths to face.   

My name is Rebecca, and I am sixty years old. I still make ministry-related mistakes all the time—made another one just this past week—but my heart’s desire is through love to provide a sealing, binding, and fettering for the courts above of our great Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

My name is Rebecca, and I am sixty years old. I connect with younger women through something called “social media” that thirty years ago wasn’t even imagined. I sit with them to hear stories that thirty years ago I didn’t even know existed. I remind them of a love of God that thirty years ago I myself wasn’t fully aware of. I cry out to God for an empowerment by the Holy Spirit that thirty years ago I didn’t even understand was available to me.

My name is Rebecca. I will not be ashamed to say it. I am a fetter. I am a binding. I am one who seals. I am a cord of love.

11 thoughts on “Reflections on my sixtieth birthday: reframing my name

  1. What an eye opening, lovely article. I’ve never cared for my name, either, and now I want to look it up and see what it means, if anything. I appreciate your openness and honesty. I really enjoyed this post.

  2. wow! Just wow! I’m so glad I didn’t skip over this as I intended (I think the dead rabbit got me :] ) … we have so many things in common, I am just a bit taken aback! You beat me to 60 but not by much, and I could have written the exact same about my thoughts and feelings of where I was way back when and I never liked my name, either. It took years to get over it. My first name means “grey fortress” … doesn’t that sound dismal, empty and dreary? I thought so for a very long time. Until God came and showed me the verse about Him being my ” strong tower”!!! He is so good!! Then there is my middle name, which is after my psychotic, lunatic aunt!! Why???? I couldn’t even tell you the meaning, I would just like to forget it altogether, but have reconciled to “redeeming” it, thanks to the counsel of my wise husband.
    Anyhow, I said all that to say, Thank you for sharing your journey, especially this part. I can only hope to be as useful to my Lord as you when I hit 60 …
    Thank you again!!!

  3. This is beautiful, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing this. My name means “princess,” yet I have been treated more like a slave in a destructive marriage which lasted the majority of 2 decades. I am just now mentally and legally starting to get out and fly free. The meaning of my name is one thing God uses repeatedly to pull me closer to His gentle embrace of guidance and healing, reminding me of who He says I am.

I welcome your thoughts