During my DTS, one of the staffers, out of the blue, asked me if I ever thought about changing my name. He was a Messianic Jew who had changed his name when he converted to Christianity. I said, “Well…actually, the thought has crossed my mind.”
You see, when I became a Christian I began to think about how names have meaning.
These days, when it comes to naming a baby, many parents simply choose a name that they like. Or they might name their child after someone, like a parent or grandparent.
In biblical days, the Hebrews chose names according to the meaning of the name. A person’s name often said something about them. And when God changed a person’s name, it was about establishing that person’s new identity. Often, those names were about their destiny, or their mission in life. For example, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning ‘father of a great multitude.’
My given name (Cynthia) is Greek in origin, and comes from a mythological goddess of the moon. Although I liked my name, the meaning wasn’t that significant to me.
On a funny side note, a good friend of mine used to shorten my name to “Cin” (sounds like “sin”) I remember one day she said, “You know? I don’t like that I’m calling you “sin.” I wasn’t crazy about that either, but anyway…
Back to the story. So the staffer who asked me if I ever thought about changing my name shared his name change story with me. And he said he would pray for me, about this possible name change. To this day I don’t know why he approached me with that question in the first place. Unless he just sensed it was something I was supposed to do?
I didn’t tell anyone about that conversation.
Amazingly, a few days later, something else happened that had to do with name changing. One of my roommates, who plays the guitar and sings prophetically, came up to me and said that she felt led to sing a song for me. As she played the guitar and sang the song, tears came to my eyes, because I felt like God was speaking straight to my heart.
She knew nothing about the conversation I had with that guy. So it was amazing that the song for me was called, “I will change your name” These are the lyrics to that song, and it was the first time I had ever heard it:
I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Lonely or afraid
Your new name shall be
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face.
I was deeply touched by the words to that song. But I didn’t realize at that time this whole name change thing was from God. I was in the middle of a phenomenal class, so there were lots of new and exciting things happening to me at that time.
A special and meaningful poem
Not long after that, one of my other DTS roommates gave me a beautiful and special homemade card. She told me that the card was from God, to me.
On the front of the card was a picture of a Lily flower.
Inside the card was a truly beautiful poem, that she wrote, about that lily flower. It was written from the perspective of the flower, who was insecure about how she looked. The lily was too hard on herself, she thought she was too skinny, too white, awkward… Then later in the poem, God speaks to the Lily and says (I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t have the card in front of me) something like, “Don’t you know who created you? I created you with Love and you are beautiful, unique and precious to me.”
The poem went on, and every word of it spoke straight to me. Like the song, I was profoundly touched by this poem. A poem about a Lily.
Those 3 things happened, all within a few weeks.
As time went on, I felt more and more that it was God’s will for me to have a new name. But I didn’t know what my new name would be.
Finally, it all came together
Almost 2 years later, I was praying about it, and I asked God to reveal my new name to me. I remember feeling sleepy. This came to me: “Take a nap, then when you wake up, look at that baby names book. The meaning of the name, in that book, is ‘Belongs to God.’”
So I took a nap, woke up and looked at the baby names book I had borrowed from my sister. As I was reading, I came across a name that (according to that book) meant ‘belongs to God’. And guess what the name was? Lily.
Hmm, I thought… That’s interesting. I liked the name, but I wanted to be very sure. Was this really from God? (As you can see, I’m a skeptical person by nature.)
Then suddenly I remembered that poem that my roommate had given me almost 2 years earlier. The poem about a lily, who represented me in the poem. So I went to find it. As I read the poem again, to my amazement I saw that in that poem were the words, “I call you Lily by name.” Wow. That was one of those moments when you get the chills.
Then I did more looking into the name Lily, and read that it means the Lily flower, which is a symbol of purity, innocence and beauty. All the things that I strongly felt that God wanted to restore in me. The things that this messed up world (and my bad decisions) had taken away.
As was stated before, from a biblical perspective, when God changed people’s names, it was always to establish their new identity. So it made sense that God would give me the name Lily. I was starting to become convinced.
Then I read something else. In Hebrew, my mom’s name, Susana, means Lily. Wow. Yet another ‘coincidence.’
At that point I was convinced. That was in 2006. That was the year I began going by my new name, Lily.
It took a while for my family and old friends to adjust, but now, everyone except my Dad goes by my new name.
I have to admit… I was hesitant to share this story, because I know that some people think it’s weird to change one’s name. And I know that some people will think it’s crazy to believe that God gave me a new name.
In fact, a guy I knew (we’re not friends anymore, for other reasons) adamantly told me that God did NOT give me a new name. He said that God did change people’s names in the bible, but He doesn’t do that anymore. His response was a bit hurtful, but he had a lot of views that I disagreed with, so…I didn’t bother arguing with him.
One thing is for sure. When we come to Christ, we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)
When I think of “Cindy”, I think of my old self. My old life. God has transformed me, and continues to transform me.
That’s the important thing. Our identity is in Christ. And that’s the truly miraculous thing… that when we are born from above, we become new creations. Children of the King of kings!
For anyone who hasn’t heard that song I mentioned earlier, here it is. Please give it a listen. It’s a beautiful song, and I hope it speaks to others out there as well!