the GIFT of the DECADE

Sarah Elizabeth, or so the story goes.

But it was the 1980s and Sarah Elizabeth was the name of the decade, so it wouldn't do.

I don't know how long I was called Sarah Elizabeth, but since my birth certificate reads Lore Ann, it must not have been long. I don't realize until my first grade teacher corrects my desk-mates repeatedly that the name on my name-tag does not sound like the name I am called. I don't realize that my name, the gift of a name given by my parents to me, will feel more like an anti-gift for many years.

The first time I meet someone named Lori, I state that her name is the one with an odd spelling and she rolls her eyes at me. I am nine years old.

Tonight I am reading Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water: reflections on faith and art and I am at the part when Madeleine begins to talk about names, the gift of names. And I will be honest with you here: I have never liked my name.

I like that my father insisted on my name over the name Sarah Elizabeth. I like that I was named after someone who was special to my mother. I like that my parents loved my name (though I wonder if they had known I would be their only girl if I would have been given the name Hannah or Emma, girl-names that were front-runners for all my younger brothers). But I have not liked my name.

It has never felt like a gift to me, instead like a cross I bear, explanation always necessary: "No, it's Lore, with a long e. Like Loree. Emphasis on the e." Many times I just default to introducing myself as simply Lo, which is what most of my good friends call me anyway. But I wonder then if by offering the gift that belongs to my closest friends so quickly, I cheat those who know me best of intimacy?

Perhaps I over think it. Don't we all have things about ourselves we wish came without explanation?

I sat on the couch last night with one of my roommates and I said I was sorry for being of a certain temperament. I'm not funny, nor am I the life of the party. I get exhausted by social engagements, by needing to be on, to have the right words at the right time. She took my hand in hers and dipped her head so that she could see into my lowered eyes, "Hey, who you are is a gift, we don't need you to be anything else."

It's hard sometimes, you know? Hard to just be who we are without explanation. To trust that God, who knit us together in quiet and secret, who named us before the foundations of the earth, who fires the neurons and names the cells, to trust that He who has done all this, knows us as we are. Loves us as we are.

It's hard sometimes, you know? Hard to know that the name my parents gave me, a name I've never known anyone else to have, sets me up to hold an automatic conversation with everyone I meet. An expected explanation. A gift, depending on how I look at it. An opportunity to know and be known with immediacy.

This is my name, this is my story, the lore of my life.