This is my name as I join you on the Reconciling Ministries blog. It is really a non-name and it is not the name I would choose. It is not the name I did choose for myself years ago. I hope to share my chosen name with you in the future, but I fear to do so now. I feel a bit sheepish about this, about the conflict and fear I feel over sharing my name. This is ironic to me.
I grew up in conflict and fear. I grew up with a name I could not bear to hear spoken aloud in reference to me. As soon as I was old enough I found a nickname I could bear: that name was "Sherman". At the time my adolescent friends dubbed me Sherman neither they nor I were perceptive enough to see the truth hidden there: She-r-man. Soon teachers, parents of friends, and peers all called me by this name. Sherman, a name that means "Shearer of sheep". Although I had no sheep, I finally had a name I could live with and no longer be anonymous in identity.Years later, following myriad medical and legal hoops, all the tests, and all of the surgeries, I discerned another name, a sacred name, holy to me in the truth it speaks about who I am; how I see and understand myself today. I love to hear my name spoken aloud.
After all these years why am I anonymous again? Because now I do have sheep; the sheep of Christ's fold that are my denomination and my congregation. The sheep, many of whom would reject their shepherd if they knew his story; my story. But my sheep need to know this story. It is the story of my faith journey. It is the story of God's leading and loving in my life. It is the story of my call to ministry. It is Life. How can I be authentic without speaking and living my story? How can my heart not break at long last from pent-up pressure of words and truths I long to share; words and truths God created in me as one witness, one more expression of the unfolding story of God's love for us all that, for Christians, begins with Jesus the Christ?
It has been twenty-seven years now, this church-imposed anonymity.
What's in a name?