When my mother was taken by cancer at the age of 55 (I was 33) she didn’t leave us much. There was no estate to divide, to money to deposit, no silver to share.
By then she had outlasted four marriages and was a single woman of little means. During her illness she spent time with my 4 brothers and sisters and I, bequeathing what few keepsakes she did have to each of us, chosen especially by her.
I was given a framed charcoal drawing of a young boy kneeling on the ground, holding a daisy in his hand. She said it reminded her of my son Aaron, her first grandchild.
So, I have a hand drawn keepsake and my mother’s Bible, both treasures I cherish which remind me of her.
And she left me with my name…….Joanna Lee.
I was unsettled by that after she passed–I had no idea who I was named after. My mother was Helen Elizabeth and I got neither name. Where did ‘Joanna’ come from? And how did I become ‘Jody’?
It never occurred to me to ask her while she was alive (and my birth father was not in the picture–he left us when I was 5); now it was too late.
I didn’t have the best history with my mother.
I left home when I was 18 and she had husband number four on the horizon.
A year later I had found Jesus; scratch that–Jesus found me.
I subsequently alienated myself in no short order from not only my mother but my siblings as well in my over-zealous, abnormal, un-Christian Christian behaviour. (Ouch. Sad memory number one.)
I was married at the age of 19, seven months after my salvation experience and moved five hours away from the rest of my family. There was no connection between my mother and I in the ensuing years except around the holidays or our birthdays, with the occasional cards and phone calls.
I felt flattened and empty when my mother died not because we had been so close (as if there were so much missing), but because we hadn’t(and there wasn’t much there). Sad memory Number Two. Mothers and daughters are supposed to be close. And I had young children. And where was she now when I needed her and why couldn’t I ask her about…….??
|So Cal beach day, son Aaron 5 ish, daughter Leah 2|
Ask her about my childhood–well, my birthhood, my babyhood. When did learn to walk? What did I like to eat? Did I sleep through the night? Have colic?
“And who was I named after, anyway,” kept coming back to me.
I had been called Jody all the years I can remember. Of course, when I was little I was called by my real name, the ‘in trouble name’, “Joanna Lee!” Like that.
I never heard the history, the whys, the whos, of my name. No connection to the past, no legacy left to me via family. Un attached.
I didn’t like that because names matter.
My five grandchildren were given some remarkable on purpose names, Biblical names, as were my son and daughter. Each one turned out to be a truer fit than we could have ever imagined–they match their namesakes perfectly.
Yes, names matter.
So imagine my joy when one day several years later I found my name in the Bible right there in God’s story.
Luke Chapter 8 records this about the ministry of Jesus:
Reading these words, God spoke to me clearly that HE knew me before I was born, He planned my birth and my name, even if my parents didn’t know Him at the time.
It turns out my mother left me with so much more than ‘just’ my name, a charcoal drawing and her Bible–she gave me a legacy that was spoken before I was born. A forthtelling of who I would be–the best of names–a Christian–‘little Christ’.
Yes, Easter and resurrection and living hope and a redeemer who buys back all those years, wasting none of our tears. It’s all true.
God. Redeems. It. All.
**by God’s good grace,through a lot of honest talk and tears, I can say thankfully and happily I am very close to my brothers and sisters now and have been for many years.
God redeems everything–even (especially!) our stupid mistakes!