What does His Name Mean To You?
As the great bard queried..."What's in a name? A rose, by any other name would smell as sweet!" There are those, such as the famous "Anne of Green Gables" who would argue that point. But my point is, what do those names conjure up in your imagination and feelings? When my mother was brought roses, for example, she took it as someone wishing her dead, since the only experience she had with those kind of flowers were at funerals! Dark yes. But the "reality" in which she existed, nonetheless!
Technically, etymologically, Yeshua means “Salvation”, and a whole host of other wonderful things, like “Utter Wholeness and Well-Being”, etc.! “Jesus” is the English derivative of the Greek interpretation of that multilayer Hebrew name.
But what does it mean to you? To Me? Does it produce Joy or Oy? Delight or Dread? Reverence or Repulsion? Really. What effect does it have on your innermost being? Perhaps it is a mixed bag for you? Don't worry. It was for me too, for many, many, years!
I mean, really, we live by association, don't we? Things, names, places, people, leave a mark on our souls, which, when mentioned, produce mental images and correlating feelings, of dread perhaps, or joyful anticipation, or wistful longing, or even passion or lustful longings, or even severe repulsion - and sometimes it is a disturbing mix of those things! We are profoundly affected by things, negatively or positively. Nothing just “doesn't matter”. Not really. No matter how fervently we tell ourselves that, we never really buy that lie. It just doesn't wash. Everything matters. And to avoid that fact is denial, which will eventually lead to mental illness.
So, when it comes to His Name, what does that conjure up for you? In you? What kind of emotional melee' does that Name call forth from the deep recesses of your innermost being? The answer to that question can tell us a lot about ourselves; about our journey so far, and what kind of influences we've had in our lives, and if we really, ever, came to know Him or not.
As in all relationships, there are levels of “knowing” someone. We can be casual acquaintances with lots of people, but it takes time and commitment to become friends, and even more to become lovers, and yet more to become family.
For me, now, that Name conjures a joyful HOPE, and deep abiding Peace in the midst of storms, and an overall sense of well-being and child-like contentment – just as it is supposed to! But sadly, this has not always been so! And how the enemy, through many a well-meaning mentor, pastor and Christian person, has beat me nearly to death for that inability to "just trust and obey"!
My story is not one of shining days, and awesome rainbow filled sunsets! It is more like a v-e-r-y slow sunrise resurrection - from hell! My relationship with the religious/spiritual community has definitely been a mixed bag. Coming through it has given me quite an education and insight into the mental illness which has permeated that world, and the doctrinal error which has enabled it!
Thankfully the journey didn't stop there! So I, having received a diploma from the school of hard knocks, also went on to graduate from the College of His Grace! In which I received a continuing education on the cure for these afflictions, and the education continues!
I began life in a community of poor people with severe mental issues, which included, but were far from limited to, codependency. Codependency is THE mixed bag of inappropriate conclusions and responses, which foster inappropriate and unhealthy relationship patterns! Codependency is a mental maladjustment in which, we've come to believe that, certain people are indispensable in our lives, and/or that we can not live or exist without them!
This demanding need, therefore, sets up a binding – love/hate – relationship, in which we take turns being victim and/or prison guard over each other. We can't do without that person, but that breeds a profound resentment, because, of course, it infringes upon our inalienable right to life, liberty, and three feet of personal space!
There ensues, then, a weird sort of dance, wherein we must keep them near, but also try to keep them at a safe distance. We are torn between our profound need of them, and our profound desire to need no one! We have confused our real need for our Creator, with the need for a person, or group of persons.
This, of course, makes the proper mix, which is required to enable healthy relationships, most difficult to achieve! Therefore, the daily war rages, as one attempts to find and establish one's own identity apart from others, while the fear of failing without them constantly disables any real effort before it is begun! It is a most frustrating experience! It is also one that is all too common, and which usually comprises the source from which most other inappropriate thought and behavior patterns emanate.
Codependency is one by-product of fallen flesh, which is still grappling to replace the loss of its creator. It is exacerbated by faulty religious belief structures, wrong doctrinal teachings, and ritual bondage (humanism and atheism are also religious paradigms) - and/or social ideologies which exploit our Godlessness. Codependency and religion/philosophy feed each other, emerging from, and becoming quite set in, due to a misunderstanding of what love is, of what authority constitutes, and what submission to that authority should look like.
It is further enabled by an utter misunderstanding of accountability, and the misuse of Scriptural Standards. Religion makes rules, with punishment and reward being the stick and the carrot which drive the desire to follow those rules. It sponsors a nasty downward cycle of effort and failure, frustration and despair! It is the maintainer of constantly deferred hopes, keeping the heart sick, and the physical realms afflicted with dysfunction, illness, poverty and ever threatening death.
But this was never God's intention for how His standards should be used! God longed for a restored relationship with His creation. Religion, however, like the codependency it produces, makes any good relationship challenged, if not entirely impossible. Religion mixes Truth with Lies, until one is practically inoculated against actual Truth! And like other vaccines, also bears a host of other unfortunate side effects! Not the least of which is an uneasy mistrust of the only One worth trusting!
While it IS true that we do NEED God! Still, our need for Him is not the suffocating kind, which is the perpetrator of all fears! And His love for us is not the smothering kind, which must micromanage our every waking moment, and then be sure to know just where we are sleeping! He doesn't dole out His blessing to us, like crumbs laid out to catch a hungry animal! He doesn't manipulate us with His Goodness! And He doesn't threaten to leave us each and every time we don't meet His lofty expectation! He isn't like that!
Though you'd never convince most so called adherents of Christendom of these truths! To hear them tell it, He is the worst nightmare of a step-dad ever. Angry. Controlling. Passive/Aggressive! Bi-polar and confusing! But that is the brain-child, the invention, the by-product of a religious system of philosophy, which is loosely based on the Word, but which has mixed it down with too many other ideologies! That is the product, the false image, the idolatrous belittling of God, by a people who do NOT really know Him in whom they claim to believe! And it is that un-lovely picture, which is the cause of the world staying away from our God, in droves!
Mere Religion is the product, the bait and switch strategy, of what the Word refers to as “doctrines of demons”. There is a mind behind! Fallen flesh is in leagues with, and indeed a prisoner of, the enemy of God! And until we are ransomed from his grasp, and set free from his cages, we are his indentured servants who do his bidding, if only in default mode! That enemy, the perpetrator of all evil, is out to undermine God's plan, and thwart His goal to redeem His creation. He is a wily one, and very determined. So we need to understand his strategies, and had better learn to avoid them if we ever hope to break free of this cycle of failure, in which most of God's very sincere people seem to be bound.
I totally understand this whole dilemma! I was raised by people who were extreme codependents! People who, at first, were void of any religious belief structures, being total "Godless heathens". They were orphan-like adults, who were still frightened kids inside, trying to make it in a dark world where everything had been stacked against them from birth! They became grown ups who trusted nothing and no one, and whose bitterness was consuming them, day by day, decision by decision. They just got deeper into the self-constructed chasm of mental and spiritual strongholds, from which most never escape.
And – sadly – I just described a huge portion of today's society! Furthermore, however, my parents had not just the “normal” lack of spirituality, not just the "normal fallen", but sort of decently trained, "fleshly" deal going on. They were profoundly damaged mentally and emotionally as well. Which made the journey that much more treacherous for their offspring!
But then, by the kindness of God on our behalf (and theirs), a kind soul invited them to a revival meeting, where they accepted Jesus as their Savior. The poor souls got a glimmer of hope that evening! As did I, a three year old in the Children's Sunday School room with low tables and little Bibles and those wonderful Sunday School cards, adorned with the religious art work of the day. The one I was given had that famous painting of Jesus looking like a rock star in a robe, with a crowd of kids around His feet, and several on His lap. I immediately imagined that I was one of those on His lap. Since, at that time, I was about the size and age of one of them, and had dark hair like them. He smiled at me. I couldn't find that one, but the one I posted totally brings back the feelings of love and safety that I had back then, when looking at that card.
It was seriously love at first sight! That single, intense, well placed, happening rocked my world and changed the game for me. Suddenly, I knew that I was loved. Suddenly, there was hope and meaning, and a way off of my formerly dead end street. Suddenly, a way out appeared, and I clung to Him for dear life.
Most literally. Since for years, following this minute in time, it was either "fear of hell" or "hope of heaven" which kept the slimy fingers of suicide from pulling the trigger on me. It SO wanted to! It was a daily harassment, in fact, until the Spirit of The Anointed One helped me to find deliverance from codependent land! Until I escaped the dungeons of religious bondage, and bounded free and untethered into the marvelous light of His truly unconditional love! Free at Last!
Sadly, however, though my parents did at least find that all important eternal rest, they never found true deliverance in this world. That is because the religious world into which they came had not yet discovered the point of their existence, as carriers of HIS Anointing. Indeed, most of those preaching “Christ” in that day had no clue as to the power, or meaning of that word, nor the Person whom it described! "Salvation from Hell" was the popular theme, and hey, that is a great deal better than nothing! At least their rest WAS finally achieved in death!
But I am convinced that God didn't go to all this trouble simply to give us some “pie in the sky, in the sweet by and by”! He sent HIS Anointed Son into this sin-infested planet to bust up the work of the evil one, and to ransom His children to a life of freedom and victory! L'Chaim! To LIFE!
I also personally believe that it is this one misunderstanding in the “Church”, this profound failure, which has led to the gross devaluing of Life which we see in today's society! If WE the primary receivers of His LIFE do not appropriately value, nor esteem real life worth living among ourselves - then, why do we imagine that “they”, the "lost", hell bound, merely surviving, world should value life so highly? It isn't logical! But then, religion and philosophy rarely are!
However, due to religious error, I have come to realize that for years His Name, that wonderful name, which I knew first in English, as “Jesus”, was a very mixed bag to me too! It created at once both an immeasurable longing and a considerable dread, both hope and fear, both love and hate. Because, you see, it isn't crazy to hate one who is perceived as one's oppressor. Nor is it crazy to love them as well, especially if one really believes that they alone have been the sole reason for one's existence!
Consequently, all my relationships were mixed bags, since everyone I knew were both indispensable and intolerable!! I couldn't find grace for myself, let alone for anyone else, so I made excuses for them, until those excuses clearly didn't stand anymore, and then I would angrily condemn them to a violent end! Lol There seemed to be no middle ground, no end to the tragic cycle.
Just when I thought I was free of them, the addictive thought patterns would return, the “needs”, the obsessions, the thoughts which had me convinced that I could not survive without them,would return, and so, I would cater to their whims, in order to get back into their good graces. But then, the hatred for myself and for them would grow a bit more each time we acted out this tired pattern of familiarity.
Oddly enough, I had this exact same love-hate gig going on with God – at least from my end! Of course He did not, as did my human counterparts did, enable that cycle or exploit it! But the reality is that I kept applying my personal experience to our relationship, instead of believing what He had to say about it. So to me it seemed like all the rest!
But the truth is that He was EVER working to free me from this maddening mental paradigm, so that I could see what was really going on, so that I could really love, really live! His Spirit just kept bringing me back to HIS WORD, showing me where I was veering from His path of righteousness, pointing out my doctrinal error, and that of those leading me, until finally, I got it! Finally I could see it! I could see where I was, and where I was supposed to be!
And then He released me from those mental and spiritual paradigms, emotional traps, so that I could leave, walk out, get off the wrong path! He gave me the power to finally climb out of the ditches/ruts on either side, where I had spent most of my life, and begin steadily pursuing Him down the middle of the right path – His path of righteousness – the freedom and joy of doing and BEING right!
Finally I was able to see that He had been working that whole time, toward getting me whole, so that my fragments, and the broken fragments of those around me, were not constantly being mixed and meshed together into some monstrous idol! He was constantly wooing me, reassuring me, fixing things, showing me wrong thinking, and exposing the false doctrines which had kept the fog pumping, and the lights blinking so that nothing was ever clear.
He just kept exposing the enemy's strategic efforts, and shutting down his best coupes, until I began to recognize the traps and avoid them. And, as for the ones into which I had already stumbled and had become incarcerated, He was constantly coming by with keys, showing them to me, offering them to me. Until finally, I trusted Him enough to take them! I mean, I meant to trust Him, I tried to, but there had been so many real betrayals, and I had to get to know Him first! Now that makes sense to me. At the time it was just another part of the PTSD cycle of survival patterns!
However, at first I admit, it was difficult to realize and accept, that I was reluctant toward Him. Though I now know why. I mean, honestly, sometimes, the “prison cells” which we create for ourselves, or at least have accepted as our own, have become the only “home” we know. They are familiar. And familiarity, especially in an otherwise unstable existence, is at least somewhat comforting. Because, we sort of know what is coming, what to expect. We have adjusted to it. However horrid it may be, we own it. We have become accustomed to dealing with it. We are used to it. It feels “right” and/or “wrong” at equal levels. But since wrong has always been all that we've known, and “right” is a foggy concept which we can not define, we go with wrong, because it gives us a sense of being in control – even though is is a false sense!
Also, add to this pattern of confusion, the fact that the only brand of change I had experienced in my life up to that point had usually been “from bad to worse”. Yes. The “Hee-Haw” theme song aptly described my life experience, and had set my expectancy. And contrary to most folks I am not just spinning a pity party here. It was truly dire. So there it was.
All of those factors combined made it difficult, nearly impossible, to even imagine “better”, let alone hope for it! And yet God, through His tender, diligent Spirit, was constantly, if ever so gently, prodding, wooing, seeking for a way into my darkness, offering light and comfort, and sneaking in a bit of hope whenever I could risk opening the door for it! Etc. And how I wanted it! How I longed for hope! How I longed for real love! I was desperate for freedom from the gloom that had become the only atmosphere I'd ever known! It seemed that most of my life was lived in darkness of every kind for the first twenty years of my life!
So, when He came to me in a stronger way, at the age of twenty, I think His wonderfully translucent light hurt my eyes! At first I would shy away, because His light would also illuminate the filth which coated my poor, badly abused, well-trashed soul. But finally, the pain of staying alone, in the dense, threatening darkness, became greater than the possibility or risk that He might reject me, so I crept nearer to Him.
Only to find that the childlike judgment of Him had been correct! I should have trusted the kid in me, who tried to cling to that guy on the Sunday School card! He was the way to freedom. He was the way out of codependent land. He was the way to order and sanity in every area of my life! He was truly the Champion, who had ransomed ME from the hand of the kidnapper!
Truly He was seeking for ME, as well as everyone else! I was NOT the lone-rejection poster-child anymore! I was HIS prized, well-loved, anything-but-trashed, possession! Whole. Loved. Set free to really live. Released to Hope. Able, at last to Anticipate Good – and to receive it! Salvation. Wholeness. Nothing missing or broken or lacking or tarnished.
That is what His name means to me now. What does His name mean to YOU? If it is still a mixed bag, keep sorting! Don't give up! “It's ALL Good!” That is not just a saying anymore. I am living proof that it is the Gospel Truth!