What’s In a Name?

Jen’s Gem: Call on the name above every name.

Throughout my life, I always called my Dad, “Daddy.” Even as an adult, my greetings and salutations in cards used this moniker. In turn, other than the occasional term of endearment, he would sometimes call me “Jenny.” He was the only person allowed to do so.

I was not fond of my first name growing up. Being the only girl named “Jennifer” in my school made me feel different and let’s face it – kids never want to be different. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that this record was broken.

To make matters worse, my last name was a mouthful. Combined with my long first name resulted in there never being enough room on standardized tests to fit it all. I remember vowing to marry someone with a shorter last name. I accomplished shaving off three letters – not exactly a home run.

My father was an acclaimed musician. I’ve written of his musical gifts many times. I and each of my siblings played a musical instrument. The sounds of drums, piano, and flute filled our house for a time and as a young child I recall sitting in the living room where our “band” would perform.

I enjoyed playing the piano. I had dreams of playing like Billy Joel or Elton John, however, my piano teacher would have nothing to do with popular music in her teaching. Classical pieces like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Chopin preludes, and Debussy tunes filled my repertoire.

Each piece had to be memorized whether or not it landed in a recital. I would beg my teacher to allow me have the music at my performances, but she refused, noting this was not the action of professional piano players. (Uh…I’m just a kid!)

She was right however. Do you ever see people like Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, or even my piano heroes mentioned above with music? Nope.

With pages of notes committed to memory, I approached each recital with trepidation. Ok. Actually, utter fear. “What if I forget the notes?” “What if people think I’m terrible?” I would express these fears to my father. His response was always the same.

“What’s your name?”

I would sheepishly eek out “Lamendola.” He’d repeat his question, which was his way of making me say my sir name louder and more confidently. “LAMENDOLA.”

I suppose my father thought this would magically erase the butterflies and sweaty hands. It didn’t. Perhaps if I was as talented and well-known as he was, it might’ve worked. All I knew was when he graced the stage, magic really did happen. Stellar performances and standing room only auditoriums were the norm when you saw “John Lamendola” on the program leaflet.

Would people expect the same from his fifth child as she attempted to tickle the ivories of the licorice-colored Steinway? I suspect seeing “Jennifer Lamendola” on the mimeographed piano recital program did not evoke the same response.

My earthly father’s attempts to instill confidence in me by “using” his last name fell short, despite his hopes for the contrary. My Father in heaven, however, has the same hope.

You see, as a child of God, we are “branded” with a powerful name. We get to partake in all of the blessings and privileges God has in store for us as well as be able to stand in confidence, knowing that nothing is impossible with Him. Because of Jesus, we are able to take authority over anything that keeps us from fulfilling God’s plan for our lives.

As a believer in Jesus, we have access to and permission to use His name. John 14:13 confirms this (emphasis mine):

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

By using the name of “Jesus” – we can speak against sickness, fear, depression, guilt, and shame. We can speak against pandemics, civil unrest, tropical storms, and never before heard of derechos. That’s power, my friend.

As much as I loved Mr. John Lamendola, my Daddy, I think I’ll use the name of Jesus, the name above all names, next time those butterflies and sweaty hands make an appearance. I pray you will too.’

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

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