The Great Name Changer

I am may things other than a single woman. Lover of God, lover of people, musician by trade, traveler of the world, teacher, friend, avid reader, overcomer of a seven year chronic disease,  lover of nature, worshipper. But “single” is often what I label myself. I’m writing a book abut it, for heaven’s sake. Sometimes that translates in my mind as “rejected.”

I keep thinking about Jacob, whose name means “Supplanter.” In other words “One who wants to be what he is not.”

Not surprisingly, Jacob lived up to his name. He came out of the womb grasping his twin brother Esau’s heal. It seems that even in the first seconds of his life, Jacob wanted to be the firstborn.  In his mind, he was supposed to be firstborn. He worked the rest of his life to “trick” fate, from coercing his brother to trade his inheritance for red stew, to sticking some fur on his arm to get the birthright from his dad.

My trials look different than Jacob’s. Jacob rehearsed over and over in his head the fact that if he had been born seconds earlier, he would have all that he wanted. I go over and over in my head that if I had never been bit by that Lyme ridden tick, if the doctors hadn’t misdiagnosed my disease over and over again, I wouldn’t have wasted all those year of my life. If I wasn’t tortured by the insomnia I have as a result of the lyme disease infecting my brain, I would have all that I want.  If God just gave me a husband that adores me, I would have all that I want. If I had a family that loved the Lord, I would have all that I want. If my relationships didn’t fail and I was never rejected, I would have all that I want. I too have become “One who wants to be what she is not.”

No matter how hard I try, no matter if I say the right words or do the right things or take enough sleep meds or flirt enough or go on enough dates or even “let go” like all my married friends tell me to do, I can’t control God.

I mourn when I think about how I’ve done this. This is the God that I love. This is my Jesus, the one who has tenderly journeyed with me and been faithful to me every second of my life. The one who bled and died so He could be near me while I can’t sleep at night, while I ache for a husband.

And now, in my pain, I have reduced Him to a genie in a bottle who will grant me my wishes if I rub the right way.  Forgive me Lord, forgive me.

In Genesis 32, we see Jacob come to a place called Jabbok, which means “Empty and Alone.” Here, in this place of aching, of not understanding his circumstances, he wrestles with God.

I want to wrestle with God like Jacob did. To ask Him the hard questions that don’t make any sense. To come to Him as lovers might come together, quarreling so that ultimately they will understand each other more. Not for the sake of being right, but for the sake of intimacy. When I wrestle Him,  He will shatter the boxes I have forced him into like a contortionist street performer. He will transform the way that I see Him, and thus He will transform the way I see myself.

When Jacob and God had wrestled with each other all night, Jacob said “I won’t leave until you bless me.”God could have offered riches, fame, wives, many things. But instead, he offered Jacob a new name. Jacob took up the offer gladly. After being called “the one who wants to be someone else”  every day of his life, he didn’t want to live in that identity any more. He wanted a new identity. God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel.” Israel means “One who wrestles with God.”

He is no longer the Supplanter. He is the One Who Has Met With God.

Even if it is difficult, I want to meet with God like this.  I want my new name, my new identity. When I wrestle Him,He will tell me to ask the hard questions.  He might not give me the answers I want. He might not give me any answers.

But it is His choice. He is God.

In the end I know that I want a God that is free. Not a God that beckons when I pray as if the prayers are like spells I can cast on my life by saying the right words. Not a God that I give my offerings to and He answers my plea like the million trinket gods on streets corners around the world. But a God who is bigger than me, stronger than me, who comes down a ladder to wrestle so that we can be close.

And in my wrestling, I may walk away with a limp like Jacob did. But it is better than pushing Him away.

For in my wrestling I will know the God who opens His heart and all things tender and and all things passionate and all things beautiful flow from Him like water.   We will be touching, and sometimes it will hurt,  but I will be changed. I will not know the answers to all my questions, but I will have seen the face of God. And I will see love in His eyes.

Maybe like Jacob, even my name will be changed. I will no longer be called “single” or “rejected.” Because I will have seen His eyes and I will know the truth…

I will be named Beloved.

What names do you give yourself? Divorced, abandoned, sick, widowed, fatherless, failure?

Not any more. Wrestle with your God and know the truth.

Your name is Beloved.

28 thoughts on “The Great Name Changer

  1. Oh, so good and just what I needed to hear. I just read this story in Genesis the other day and am in the midst of my own “romantic wrestling” with the Lover of My Soul. Thank you so much!

  2. I feel like you expressed the words of my own heart longings. To be real, authentic with God, not only to be known, but to know Him for who He really is too 🙂 To understand the amazing depth we can have in relationship with Him as well as His affect in and through our own lives.

  3. Beautifully written Kate! I needed this today. I, too, sometimes turn God into a Genie in a bottle desperately waiting for Him to grant my needs/wants. But, my true needs can only be met through spending time with him–wrestling out the hard questions with a God who loves me and has the best in mind.

  4. I too am a Supplanter. I give myself all manner of unfair and sometimes untrue labels. I happened upon your blog through a friend’s Facebook post…the one about what married people say to their single friends. I got the email update for this new post and poured through it between two of my classes. As I sat, waiting for the professor, tears prickled my eyes and I felt a giant knot in my throat. This post touched my heart and convicted me to my core. Thank you.

  5. I had no idea that the name of the place where Jacob wrestled with God was “empty and alone.” This puts a whole another level onto a familiar story. It really gives me something to think about.

  6. Simply brilliant, mademoiselle. For an entirely different reason than the one you’re articulating, I needed this encouragement–which, I believe, is the beauty of our God. He uses all roads open to Him to say what needs to be said.

    I particularly love your illustration of Jacob; long have I struggled with him and his choices, unsure of how to deal with someone who is both incredibly important to God’s plans and also a selfish jerk through a lot of his life. Your view of his actions is one I’ve not considered, and definitely gives me food for thought. Many thanks–and good luck with your book.

  7. Okay, so I never really usually comment on blogs but I figured I should. I am 28 and single. Unhappily as it were, but thats neither here nor there. I just wanted to say that your blog is being read by men and women alike and I personally find it hilarious and moving. Often at the same time. You have a gift. Anyways keep writing- I have been spreading your blog among my friends like wild fire. Its good. Yeah. Be blessed! Matt

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  9. I’m reading through Nouwen’s “Life of the Beloved” and have found hope in your words and his. It’s not a coincidence to see the word “beloved” pop up in a blog post when that’s the issue that God’s been dealing with me about lately.

    • Henri Nouwen is one of my absolute favorite authors ever. I have to take him with me every time I go to a monastery for a retreat. He is my soul mate, even if he was a priest and is no longer alive.

  10. Really thankful to have read your blog today; it spoke to my heart and the issues that I also have been wrestling with recently. I have no desire to treat God as though He were a genie…and yet, sometimes I act and think along those lines. I too want to know Him more deeply and He has been granting that request in this particularly lonely season in my life. I’m thankful for other people who are willing to share how the Lord is working in their lives as we walk similar paths that He has given to us. May the Lord continue to bless your writing!

  11. I randomly found your blog. I don’t have Lyme, but in 2007 while at the top of my career, Master Hair Stylist 27 years, I was in the MRI machine, then told I have severe spinal stenosis, and need a c4, c5, c6 dysectomy w/fusion. They removed my 3 disc’s. Ok, so ill be back to work in 3 months tops. It’s a long story, but, I’m now on 100% disability, and really, in a hard, wrestling mode w/GOD… THANK-YOU for sharing. Looking forward to reading more.


  12. Even in the midst of our struggles, and even more specifically, relational struggles of singleness, it can most definitely seem lonely and bleak. The best thing I’ve found is to know our identity in Christ as His beloved like you spoke of Kate. Much easier said than done, believing that we are truly His beloved changes everything. As we prepare ourselves for the seasons God places before us, we come ever closer to His intimacy, and who knows, maybe a step closer to finding the person we’ll spend our life with.

  13. I do remember when I was single, kissing some frogs that remained frogs. Christian guys who were bad for me. A lot of wolves in sheep clothing. Some were respectful, then I was rejected, or I rejected them.

    I find that even in marriage there are also lonely times. When we tried for 8 yrs to have a child. My husband was married before me. Having 1 son. He had vesectomy. Found Christian Dr to reverse it, with success. Come to find out, it was me.

    Now I am 47, w/3 dogs, & a 27 yr old step son.

    I love ny husband deeply. He truly examplifies how Christ loves me. It has been almost 20 years of our meeting. Long journey of healing me for such a marriage. Being loved unconditionally. I finally just started to talk about it.

    I thought having a baby would make me more of a woman as when I was single being married would, and yet, I still only find completeness and utter fulfillment in my Savior. Only he, will be the one who utterly fills my cup and over flowing.

    • I do actually have quite a bit of talk in the book I am writing about how loneliness doesn’t go away when you are married. I have heard that from a lot of married people, so I believe it. I think I am learning more and more that it is a skill and a tool to learn to be thankful now no matter what circumstances we are in. We will always need that throughout our lives. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Beautiful! You pierced such a hard struggle. And I agree with Cara! Safe? No way! If he was a genie that gave us everything we want, where would be the adventure?
    Thank you for letting the Lover of our souls speak through you!

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