What's in a Name



Naming my kids was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. How do you choose what a child will be called her entire life? How do you know from the moment you look at him, what name will fit his personality? It is a huge responsibility to choose what name a child will answer to, what name she will write on every form, what name she will speak over herself every day for the rest of her life. “Hi, I’m…”

We had a dog growing up named Spunky — that dog was crazy! My mom always said we should have named him something else. What if that happened with my kids?!?

I believe there is power in a name. What is spoken over you matters. The words you use are incredibly valuable, and a person’s name is spoken over them again and again from birth until death.

My name, Kelly, means “Warrior.” Part of me used to like that growing up. I felt like it fit. I was bold and determined. Strong-willed. But as I grew, I actually began to despise it. It seemed like no one appreciated the fact that I was strong-willed. Instead, they wanted me to change.

I was told time and time again I was bossy, overwhelming, or too much. I was told I needed to learn how to be submissive — to be quiet, to not speak what was on my mind.

Over time, I began to believe it was a mistake I was strong and independent. I prayed and prayed my oldest child would be a boy so he could have the typical oldest child traits of being a leader. I didn’t want my daughter to have to struggle the way I had. I didn’t want her to be told her whole life that if she was a "good Christian girl" she would be quiet and submissive, not a leader.

I spent so many years trying to be someone I was not. I tried to keep my thoughts to myself. I tried very hard to do whatever was asked of me, without ever sharing my feelings. I would hide what I wanted and allow myself to be silenced.

A few years ago, I was praying and I yelled at God. (By the way, it’s OK to do that! He can handle your frustrations!) I said, “Why did you allow me to be named Kelly? Why did you make me strong-willed? Why did you give me so many opinions if no one ever appreciates them? Why couldn’t I just be quiet and go with the flow? Why did I have to have such a strong personality?”

And, God very clearly spoke to my heart, “I named you Kelly because I needed a warrior. I needed someone who would fight spiritual battles. I needed someone who would break generational bondages. I needed someone who would not back down, who would do the hard things, who would lead even in the face of adversity. I didn’t name you Kelly because I wanted you to change. I named you Kelly because I needed a warrior.”

Wow! Talk about a moment that dropped me to my knees. All these years, I had questioned my true identity. All these years, I had tried so hard to be something I was not. But, in that moment, the true beauty of who God created me to be came rushing over me.

In the Bible, Paul was a zealous man. He went 100-percent after whatever he believed. When he believed Christians were wrong and were slandering the name of his God, he put everything he had into silencing them. Then, after he met Jesus, he put 100-percent into sharing the truth of the gospel. You see it was not Paul’s zealousness that was the problem, it was the focus of that zeal.

God showed me my internal fight is not the problem. Sure, there have been many times when that internal fight has been aimed in the wrong direction — fighting battles that were never mine to fight. But, it is that same internal fight that has allowed me to keep going even when life has been incredibly hard. To forgive the unforgivable. To love the unlovable. To get back up even when life has kicked me down again.

True beauty comes from accepting who God created you to be. It might not look like you want it to. It might not look like others want it to. It might be hard. It might be a lot of work. But it will be beautiful.

True beauty does not come from fitting into some predetermined mold. It comes from becoming the best version of YOU! God created you for a purpose. He gave you a very specific personality because He knows the path your life will take. He knows the tools you will need to win in life.

Maybe He made you quiet and submissive. Praise! He has a plan for that. Maybe He made you a natural leader with strong opinions. Praise! He has a plan for that. Maybe He made you creative or organized or determined or go with the flow. Praise! He has a plan for that.

Take whatever personality and giftings God has given you and place them back into His hands. Allow Him to mold you into the person He intended when He knit you together in your mother’s womb. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to change the core of who you are. Allow Him to use all those characteristics for good. Your true beauty will shine when you allow God to work in and through the personality He gave you!


Kelly is a wife and mother of five children living in Fort Worth, Texas. She is an ordained minister and author of PAUSED: Protecting Your Faith When God Says "Wait" and Pursuit: The Cross. For more info visit: kellyjoy.org