I have a confession to make. Growing up I wished for a fancier first name. I loved my middle name- Elizabeth, but Anne? Anne just seemed so ordinary and lackluster. It was, after all, a common middle name among my friends. That seemed proof enough to me that it was a second best kind of name. Even the extra “e” at the end only seem to confuse people who often mistook it for Annie.
As a little girl I often thought about what it would have been like to be named Elizabeth Anne instead of the other way around. I could have been nicknamed Beth like the tragic character in Little Women or Betsy like the famous American seamstress. In my mind, plain old Anne just couldn’t compare.
Then one day around my twelfth birthday someone gave me a laminated card with my name and its meaning. It read: Anne – Hebrew origin, meaning, “Full of grace, mercy and prayer.” I was stunned. The name I thought so run-of-the-mill had such beautiful meaning. It identified exactly who I longed to be- a young woman full of grace, mercy and prayer. My perspective changed. Anne was now a name that I hoped to be worthy to grow into.
I don’t have to look far into the Gospel to find someone else who had to grow into his name. The Word tells me when Jesus met Simon son of John for the first time He told him he would call him Cephas or Peter. Peter- literally “the rock”. Peter was, in fact, anything but a solid rock of faith. His impulsive actions led him to jump out of a boat, cut off a servant’s ear and utter heartbreaking denials that he even knew Jesus. But in the end, he truly did become the pillar that the early church was built upon. Jesus saw Peter as if he already was what he would become! The solid rock of faith that would win many hearts for Christ.
It makes me wonder what Jesus’s name for me might be. How does He see me in the present state of who I am? Does He see me in the fullness of my imperfection or in His eyes am I still Anne- a woman full of grace, mercy and prayer? I think I have an inkling of the answer. In Revelation 2:17 Jesus says, “To him who overcomes…I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” The revelation of how God sees me now through His perfecting love. The new name I grew into.