One of my favorite chapters in Stories from the Jesus House describes a man who has transformed himself into a drag queen. He shows up at the Jesus House in his tight and skimpy clothes, wearing full and thick face makeup while carrying a pink handbag which doubles as an offensive tool to make his point.
Not only does he show up looking different from previous appearances, he also has given himself a new name. A stage name that he insists everyone call him.
I’ve thought of Cayenne this past week because getting a new name is a hot topic around my house. My four-year-old nephew started last week as Kayvion and closed out the week as James. We call him James Kayvion while we all get used to the change, but he officially has a new name.
He also officially has a new mom and dad. My sister and brother-in-law, along with about twenty-five of their closest family members, stood before a judge on Thursday and adopted this creative and full of life little man into our family forever.
His new name, James, signals a fresh start at life. A new identity and the hope of a better future. It’s super exciting and we are thrilled to get to fill in the “To:” section on his Christmas gift with his new name.
My kids are going nuts-o over the change. They’ve questioned what if he doesn’t like the new name? What if he gets confused, or his teachers and friends get don't know what to call him? We’ve had quite a few good conversations about the idea that none of us (other than perhaps drag-queens like Cayenne) get to provide input on our names.
For most of us, there is one way only that we have opportunity for a new name. This is when we reach the end of our efforts to find peace on our own and come to the realization that we need hope and a new start.
I’ve found that new start possible by identifying with and putting trust in Jesus.
Where we label ourselves as worriers, He can change us into prayer warriors.
Where we label ourselves as worthless, He can change us into priceless.
Where we label ourselves as victims, He can change us into conquerors.
I’d lived for a long time under demeaning labels and names that ran back and forth through my head. All of those negative names I called myself never did anything to bring peace or change.
But there are names we can take on through our faith that change everything. Jesus' coming into this world to move the story of peace and hope forward brings these new names into the realm of possibility. We are no longer hopeless, but Hopeful. We are not separated, but Sons and Daughters.
Our identity affects everything. Cayenne changed to life as a fast-moving woman. Foster-child Kayvion changed to warmly cherished James. I changed from worrying, hopeless, unforgiven one to Daughter with full-access to peace and hope and forgiveness.