What’s in a Name? Freedom or Bondage?

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I got a pair of Kate Spade Keds in May and let them be one of my birthday gifts. I typically don’t feel the need to shop the name brands, and I’m pretty sure Bill paid an extra thirty or so dollars for the silver spade emblem placed on the shoes’ heels. My justification? The black dots on white background. They go with most of my summer wardrobe which is the noncolor I wear year-round—black, adding white as my summer color.

Only now I don’t see a cute, comfortable pair of shoes I can wear with everything throughout summer. I see Kate Spade’s thirteen-year-old daughter, and I ache for her lifelong pain.

We as viewers were stunned how within one week a rich and successful fashion designer and then a love-life-large internationally famous traveler-gourmand could both take their lives within the same week. People who seemed to have it all.

Valuable lives.

Not just because they were famous, but because every life is valuable.

With so many articles focusing on those two lives lost because of their famous names, I also learned six NYC taxi cab drivers also took their lives over the past several months. The reason noted was they had lost about 65% of their income because riders prefer Uber and Lyft.

What good resulted by their having invested hundreds of thousands of dollars for a taxi medallion? These drivers had legitimate financial troubles, no longer able to pay their mortgages and college tuition for their children. But to think their only way out was to take their lives? I don’t know any of their names, but someone does.

Barren Land-a gift

Barren Land-a gift to a special young woman.

The Disparity in our Names

I recall when Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success first came out in 2008. Gladwell notes how cultural differences play a huge role in those who succeed. For example, Bill Gates is obviously extremely intelligent.

However, Gates had advantages many other intelligent people didn’t have. He had access to a high school computer when he was 13. While few had little opportunities to use a computer, Gates’ mother was on the board of directors of IBM. She also had the advantages that come with being the daughter of a wealthy businessman.

(We must note how through their great wealth, Bill and Melissa Gates have set milestones in philanthropy.)

Gladwell cites many others who have gained the advantage that helped them rise above others. They were part of a family with a “name,” a source of great power for heightening success.

But what if you weren’t born with a name? Or what if you have a relative whose life has cast a dark shadow on that name? I’m reminded of a story Bill shared that has stuck with me over the years.

When in St. Peter's 2012

When in St. Peter’s 2012

Reincarnating a Name

Edward “Easy Eddie” O’Hare (1893-1939) was an attorney who worked closely with Al Capone. His name was not just tainted but smeared by his illegal connections with the mob. O’Hare decided to change all that. History proves Edward O’Hare was instrumental in helping federal prosecutors convict Capone of tax evasion in 1930. His hope was to clean his slate for his family. Capone had O’Hare assassinated in 1939.

Easy Eddie’s son didn’t live to be 46 like his father. Yet, Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare proved to live an honorable life. Butch, a Lieutenant Commander, became the first flying ace for the Navy. He is recognized for how–even with a limited amount of ammunition–he attacked a formation of heavy bombers. In 1942 he became the first naval recipient of a Medal of Honor in World War II.

His final call to action came a year later in 1943 when he was only 29 years old. While O’Hare led the U.S. Navy’s nighttime fighter attack, he was hit by Japanese torpedo bombers.

In 1945, a Navy destroyer was named for him: the USS O’Hare (DD-889). In 1949, the Chicago Airport was named O’Hare International Airport to honor his life. He also received a Navy Cross, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Purple Heart.

How We Define Ours and Others’ Names

In some ways our infatuation with celebrities and having similar (but not really) fame on social media can skew our true purpose. Like many of you, I don’t want fortune or fame. I simply want what I do to have purpose.

I have to possess continual check points. Am I failing to live a real life and reveal my imperfect but honest face? Am I able to recognize faces that bear pain even when smiling? It’s not weak to be real, to be vulnerable. In turn, we have to develop our patience and kindness and being sensitive of heart to those hurting and in a dark place.

Butterfly Garden at MI in Michigan

Butterfly Garden on Mackinac Island

Finding HOPE, Breaking Free

I remember when my days were so busy with names like Mom, Wife, Teacher, Volunteer, Housekeeper, Cook, Caretaker of Everything, and I had other life pursuits always put on hold. I thought of the images of women in Africa scrubbing clothes in a muddy river, and I envisioned being alongside them.

I wanted to shed my life of those many constraints that overwhelmed my days and live free in some of the ways they did. How simple it must be, I decided, away from the scrutiny of those still competing in a race I hadn’t signed up for.

Realistically it would be an unfathomable trade to experience the pain, the hunger, the great loss too many endure, even now in our modern society. I actually feel unworthy to express this thought because my life is so much easier.

After Kate Spade’s daughter was born, she questioned how her business would be affected without her husband’s and her input. So she counted how many times she was summoned by phone during one normal day—over 250 calls. Yet, even from the vantage point of what Kate Spade experienced, we can’t ever judge, only learn from those who experienced great darkness without our knowing to help.

Anthony Bourdain’s mother said the life-loving person we saw on his TV series was the same person in private. I have to disagree. There was obviously a part of him he hid. In one video clip, Bourdain spoke how he didn’t have a disease in regard to his past drug use, he had a dark genie.

Depression

The word itself evokes sadness at its deepest core. For some, a vast hole opens wide to swallow them. It’s not something people tend to talk about. It’s felt more than spoken, and those who feel it most are strangled by its silent world, grappling with the whys of it all.

Why must they grapple alone because of its stigma? For fear of being judged? For fear of being judged.

So let’s talk about it, put it out on the table and eliminate those stigmas, those presuppositions, and those judgments.

Most of us don’t talk about it because, well, it’s depressing. We also don’t know the answers for everyone with depression and life’s complexities, targeting the vulnerable with innumerable variables.

For some it may be hormonal imbalances, or neurotransmitters off-kilter; for others a one-time event or possibly lifelong battle.

Or all of the above.

I also want to mention the symptoms of diseases we are just now learning about–like CTE. (To learn more about CTE, read a personal account by Cyndy Feasel in her book When the Cheering Stops.)

But we need to talk about it, especially since it affects our lives and those we love.

Waterfall at Eden Isle

Waterfall at Eden Isle

I now realize my short-sightedness for all those years my eternal optimism convinced me that happiness was simply a choice, like a snap-your-finger-and-decide-outloud, “I choose to be happy.” And I misunderstood out of ignorance.

For those years while living in my eternal optimist state, I assumed we all had complete control over our moods. I didn’t have a clue what others were struggling with.

When I reduced the junk in my diet in my early 20s and had a hysterectomy at 27, I felt those changes resulted with a strengthening of an even temperament. However, my greatest strength–emotionally, spiritually and physically–came in my early 20s when I realized I have a Father who loves me unconditionally. Unworthy me! I had a Father, Savior, and Advocate whose name is above all names. No riches on earth compare.

When a shadow was placed over me:

Twenty years ago when I was hit with too much at one time, I felt great sadness. Rightly so with three deaths within only a few months and too many other things toppling about. I held tight to the many promises of God that had always sustained me during tough times. Only those promises were too distant to grasp.

What kept me was a tiny sliver of hope in one verse that whispered through me, “A bruised reed He will not break.” I had to look it up, unfamiliar with its source. (It’s in the Old and New Testament.)

I reckoned how something so slight, so frail sounding, could hold me through that period of darkness. Yet, that thin thread of hope kept me. With God, our greatest weakness is still His great strength.

What’s in a name? Each person’s name? For us to recognize as a child, teenager and adult, the words the bullies taunt aren’t true and it is fathomable to live through them, around them, past them. We also have to silence the bullies in our minds.

Nature’s Example of Life’s Ladder

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Who we are in life’s ladder reminds me of how Bill and I love standing at our kitchen window, binoculars in hand. We have a diversity of bird species that flock around four bird feeders—various woodpeckers, titmice, black-capped chickadees, bluejays, Cardinals …

In early spring my birdwatching becomes focused on the goldfinches who arrive, at least a hundred of them. En masse they flutter around the four bird feeders and the ground underneath. Over the following weeks, tiny baby goldfinches still green turn bright yellow before my eyes. I stand marveling over the wealth of their beauty.

Bluebird in Wisteria

Bluebird in Wisteria

That is until two bluebirds arrive, settling down amidst the yellow and black goldfinches. Then I focus on the “celebrities.” The seasonal goldfinches become like the everyday birds that frequent year-round. I’m caught up by the rare and the few.

Yet, God has His eyes on the sparrows. He knows and loves each one of us.

I believe–

To live without knowing the true self,

to not live who God created us to be,

is the greatest loss of all.

Where Does our Hope Come from?

To understand the hopelessness those six taxi drivers endured, un-named lives to most of us, who are we to say? Each life has meaning to the Creator of the Universe who creatively weaved our unique designs within our mothers’ wombs. My Father, your Father, has a name above all names. He has promises He keeps.

Whatever the situation, we have hope.

Fight, fight hard, to discover it.

For the weeks that follow:

I wrote the above at the first of June. I couldn’t post it because I didn’t have the answers and still don’t. I simply serve a God who does.

Yet, even in the midst of all the answers, in the best of families, darkness prevails and robs us of a life.

One Way to Start is to Surround Yourself with Hope.

I saw how God is living large through some remarkable women this morning. We gathered for a committee meeting to brainstorm about a therapy garden for the Child Safety Center of White County. Two were therapists, one serves as a CSC advocate, along with their fearless leader, the executive director—all brilliant in their fields, helping children and teens deal with traumatic events. They are earnestly and actively pursuing the much more to make changes in traumatized children’s lives and the generations of lives who follow. All in our corner of the world.

It gives me hope to see the fruition of God’s purpose being realized through each woman there, for a cause larger than them. They choose to make a difference using the strengths created within them.

One place we can start is in our corner of the world.

Prayer is our Poetry

Prayer is our Poetry

One Inspiring Story 

When my daughter returned from a trip this week, she shared about meeting this phenomenal couple whose lives weren’t picture perfect. What Wendy and Kris Soderman did with tragedy will surely inspire you about how we can grow stronger through our storms. The following short video, narrated by Robert Downey, Jr., also features Kenny Loggins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvNUl-4xiqo&feature=youtu.be

One Inspiring Song

“One Step Away” by Casting Crowns. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hktP9LHaRI0) Surround yourself with music that speaks life.

What’s in a Name? Freedom or Bondage? Why not Life and Liberty?

What is your stranglehold you can work to loosen? How can you help loosen others’ strangleholds?

Start where you are.

Hope is an Anchor

According to the book of Hebrews, hope is the anchor of our souls. Yet, unless our anchor is anchored/affixed into something solid, it holds nothing steady and can be quite dangerous as it tosses to and fro … much like us if we’re not securely anchored to the foundation of life.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.    Hebrews 6:17-20 (NIV)

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In a world of darkness, our hope is how light always has the ability to penetrate the darkness. When delving into great darkness though, greater light must be shed. After I wrote this, we saw the tragedy of the journalists gunned down in Baltimore, making it easy to doubt the safety of our lives and our value to some. In turn, didn’t we see light flowing through the hundreds of people who came to rescue the lives of 12 soccer players and coach in Thailand? 

The capacity to care is the thing which gives life

its deepest significance.

Pablo Casals, cellist

Choose to Learn a New Song

 

A good name is more desirable than great riches;

to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1

http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/miss-march-2018-ann-elizabeth-robertson/

 

4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? Freedom or Bondage?

  1. Oh Ann, how thoughtful and wise your words! From the taxi drivers to the fold finches, my heart traveled this journey of fighting for hope. Thank you for being so generous and brave to inspire us all! Miss our talks!

    Like

  2. Your beautiful poetic words are rich with wisdom, and heart, and gentle encouragement, and faith in what we cannot see but know is true. Your photographs and artwork reflect that spirit…and cause me to reflect as well. Thank you, bless you! for sharing.

    Like

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