Most people, if asked, would not be able to tell you my name. I’m not talking about my Facebook name, or the countless other names I’ve associated myself with throughout the years, I’m talking about the name that’s on my birth certificate. The one that my parents spent months planning. The one that God purposed for me when He was deciding to put me in this world. This post is titled Names.. because for the next few paragraphs, I will take you through the three names that have mostly defined my life, and then explain why I have decided to take my name back.
The Story: 18 1/2 years ago, a woman and a man found out that they were going to be parents to a beautiful little girl (Ok they knew the girl part, the beautiful part was realized later). This commenced the “name game”. Books were read, advice was asked, but nothing was coming. Then one day the woman decided that she wanted something that meant strong and beautiful, but that wasn’t Alexandra. And then (so my mom says), she met one of the most beautiful women she has ever come across, and, in that moment, decided that her child would be named the same. Thus the girl was born!
Alex: Almost immediately after, people began to call said girl Alex, and she would go by this name for many years. Alex was quiet, most would say introverted; you could almost always find her with her nose in a book. She was smart and very much so in the tomboy phase. She loved Spongebob, and adored spending hours playing with her Barbies. Alex was a force to be reckoned with. She was independent, bossy even; but she didn’t care. Alex was Alex and she liked her that way…
Cea: Sometime during the Alex era, Cea was born. Now Cea wasn’t much different from Alex, but she liked her name a little better. Cea was definitely bossy, and she loved it. She had many younger peers who looked up to her, so she felt the need to mature and be the leader. Cea was constantly making up new games to play, and finding new adventures to go on. Cea was strong, and admired, and she liked that very much….
Ali: Just as quickly as the era of Cea began, it ended. Alex was revived for a little bit, but she knew it was a dying cause. Then, in high school, Alex realized that she could change, almost a “reinventing” of sorts. That’s when Ali came into the picture. Ali (Unfortunately called Ali as in Muhammad Ali at times), was very different from Alex. She was more of a girly girl, but had decided to put her dolls away. The strength was still there, but her streak of independence began to wane, and she became more of a “people pleaser”. Where as Alex was a little more quiet, Ali was outgoing, some might even call her extraverted. Ali loved to bake, and make people happy. She loved fashion and movies, but her never ceasing hunger for books was diminishing. Ali liked her name, and she thought she like herself, but she would have moments when looking in the mirror, felt the same as looking at a stranger. Then Ali began to wonder…
She began to question who she really was. Was she Alex, quiet, but independent? Was she Cea the leader? Or was she truly Ali, since most people seemed to like her that way? Then she realized was none of them apart, but all of them at once! She was not just one name, she was a name. The name that came to her mother those years ago. The name that God gave her. The name that trumped all others. But why did she let herself become divided? Why did she let people dictate who she was, because maybe they couldn’t say it right? That’s definitely not who she is. She is quiet, and introverted, but she also loves people. She is kind of a tomboy, but she can rock some heals and give make up tips. She is independent and strong, but she’s also learning what it means to listen and be vulnerable. She is all of these things, and she no longer wants to choose one name or the other; she is taking her name back….
In conclusion, don’t ever let people make you change your name. I know it sucks having to repeat it, or correct people, or in my case, write your name in phonetics for graduation. But guess what, your name is who you are. It’s not just a part of you, it is you, and if you let people change your name, you’re letting them change you. God put us here for a reason, not Alex/Cea/Ali, but me, He put me here for a reason. This is not to say that nicknames are bad, I have a few that I love (i.e. Coffee bean, bean, Gilly, etc), but they were never meant to take the place of my name; just be in addition to. Ok so, nicknames= not bad, changing your name to fit the world’s standards= not so great. And with that I will bid you all farewell.
*P.s. My name is Alexcea (pronouced Alex-see-ya)
Nature is good for the soul… I’m sure that’s some sort of famous quote or something. I normally don’t identify myself as nature inclined, but I have to say that after living in LA for six months, I was beyond excited to see some green, and some stars!
For those of you that don’t know, I’m a part of an A-mazing Christian organization here on USC’s campus called Cru (formerly, Campus Crusades). Every fall and spring, Cru puts together a retreat; nothing crazy, just some Jesus loving people out away from school and getting some great hipster pictures for Instagram.
This past weekend we had our spring retreat (for those of you currently living in the Arctic, sorry the “East Coast”, it’s pretty much spring here #sorrynotsorry). What does spring retreat entail, you ask? Well, basically, over 80 college students packed their Bibles (and cameras) and heading to Santa Barbara for some “glamping”*. We spent two bitterly cold nights learning more about not only Jesus, but each other…. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is isolation; he wants us to feel alone, or like we’re the only people dealing with certain things. When, in reality, so many of us are hurting in the same way, and if we could just take 5 seconds of courage and be vulnerable with one another, there would be so much healing.
So to say that God showed up and showed out is a complete understatement. So much was broken in me, that I came back feeling 10lbs lighter! My eyes were open, my heart was softened, and my soul was refreshed.
Another wonderful tidbit of information: I brought along a friend with me, who God has definitely placed in my life, and at the beginning of the weekend she was agnostic; she left on Sunday believing in God and starving for more of His truth. Being completely honest, I was in tears just watching the beauty of one of His lost sheep being returned to the fold, and the fact the God intrusted me to help in that mission. I have not felt like the best daughter lately, but it just goes to show that we are not the ones who qualify us, God qualifies us. We don’t determine if/when we are worthy, Jesus died and declared we are always worthy. And we can’t decide when we deserve love, God is love and He said that we deserve Him.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or undeserving, or unlovable, or any of the other many lies Satan throws at us, maybe you need a little spring retreat of your own! And if you can’t get to nature (I mean, snow), then get out your Bible, pour some coffee (or tea I guess), turn off the phone, GET OFF FACEBOOK, and spend some time being kind to your soul. He will remind you of who and who’s you are, and that your life is justified because of Jeremiah 1:5–go read it. I love you, God loves you, and that’s all that matters!
So, Valentine’s Day is around the corner. And many of you are gearing up to either spend that
contrived blessed holiday with the one you love, or eat your feelings (Aka be like me)! Because of this, I thought I would get into the spirit (you may laugh), and post a little something I jotted down the other day:
Let me tell you a little something about the “lover”…. The lover’s heart is too big for their chest. Their thoughts are constantly going to other people. Their bank account is especially drained around Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, and Christmas. They have many “friends”, and most people would describe them as pleasant, happy, always smiling… But the truth is something darker.
Behind that smile is a broken and hurting person. The happiness and pleasant demeanor are there so that we don’t scare you away with our many (hidden) feelings. We are lonely. We love more than we get, and we love those whom most would deem “unlovable”. We give, and people take, and then we give more. We try to hold it together; we say that admiration and appreciation don’t matter, but actually they’re what we desire most. We long for a friend like ourselves; for a Lover of our souls.
It’s so easy for us to fall into the traps of false love and unhealthy relationships. When we don’t seek the one great Lover, we begin to break down. Our hearts start to shatter, and the cracks in our “suit of armor” become deep valleys. We know how important it is to love, but we forget how to be loved.
That’s when He comes to fill us. That’s when our smiles become true. And that’s when we can finally let ourselves feel loved. So, if you’re a lover, don’t be discouraged. Seek Him. Seek the Lord, and you will find the love that you so desperately desire. And if you know a lover, share some of your appreciation; you have no idea what a simple “thank you” could do.
“But the greatest of these is love.”
Isn’t it funny how life can go? Sometimes I like to think of myself as comic relief for God. And this isn’t me being cynical or hating on God, it’s just how I feel sometimes. I mean, I’m clumsy, I say the wrong things at the very wrong times, I forget really important things, and remember every embarrassing moment, I have wardrobe malfunctions constantly, and I make mistakes daily. All the while I can just picture God laughing at most of these. But not for the reasons you would think….
How many times does the Bible tell us not to worry? (I haven’t counted, but I’m sure it’s a lot). And how often do we actually adhere the that? (If you’re me, not very often). Honestly, God dresses the lilies* and how beautiful are they, and yet we worry about laughter lines and love-handles?! How often do we spend every waking moment engulfed in the chasms that life likes to throw at us? I will use USC as an example. Here, everyone is an overachiever. If you don’t work three jobs, have two internships, multiple leadership positions, are part of greek life, and taking 18 units, do you even go to USC? The name of the game is Don’t Let Them See You Sweat. You have to look like you have it all together, even after your fifth all-nighter. In reality, we are hurting. We’re tired. We’re lonely. Wanna know why we have such a huge hookup culture? It’s because no one really has time for relationships now, but they still go to sleep feeling the emptiness of their beds and long for connection. So they go and get it Thursday-Saturday night from any person willing to walk back to their room with them.
We worry about jobs, and not having them after graduation. We worry about all of our money going to student loans for the rest of our lives. (Yes) We even worry about how our parents perceive us, and if they are proud of us. I once heard one of my college prep high school teachers tell me how he didn’t want his children going to a school like ours. He said, “I’ve seen too many 17/18 year olds burned out by the system, and I don’t want my kids to go through the same.” That’s pretty powerful. 17 and 18 year olds, who haven’t even really started life, are burned out.
This was not how it was supposed to be. We weren’t created to deal with this kind of stress and worry. We don’t even see all of the blessings in our lives, because we’re too wrapped up in our own heads.
So, when I picture God looking down at my life, I see him laughing, not because of all the completely, ridiculously, embarrassing things I do (everyday), but because I have so many adjectives for those moments… God, the creator of the universe, overseer of over 7 billion people, does not worry. And we, the receivers of His glory, worry about everything. I can literally hear God saying, “If you only knew…” So take today, take tomorrow, take forever, and calm down. Find things that bring you joy, and do them! Want to learn how to speak Chinese, take a class. Want to travel, get in the car and go. We aren’t promised tomorrow, so take your peace and go live. Isn’t it funny how simple life could be? *Matthew 6:28