Updated: Mar 21
What name are you currently going by?
You know what was one of the hardest aspects of becoming a mother to me? It wasn't making sure I was doing "all the right things" prenatally, preparing for the actual birth, or even trying to figure out how we were going to do life with a new, small, helpless person. I stressed over baby names.
Like, so much so, that my husband and I refused to name our children ahead of time because we both 100% knew that I would change my mind.
Names are a big deal to me. I didn't like my name very much growing up because my first name was regularly mispronounced and my second name was a multi-generational hand-me-down that felt so unoriginal. In Pre-K, upon learning to write my name, my teacher told me that I had spelled my name incorrectly (I had not), so I told her that "my mama didn't know how to spell when I was born."
Maybe that's where it started; I wanted a name that didn't come with a lot of questions or confusion.
It wasn't until we were presented with the task of naming our first, brand new human that I truly appreciated my own name. I began looking through books and looking up the meaning of so. many. names. In my searches, I found that mine, Jeanna Elizabeth, means "God has been gracious" and "pledged to God." It wouldn't be until after the birth of our second child that I would come to appreciate those monikers even more; it was through those two unique events that I got to really see the graciousness of God, and where I began to discover my own purpose in serving his kingdom.
But how often do we give ourselves other names? Names and titles like: "failure", "not good enough", "not worthy", "too much", or "not enough"? Or maybe even just basic names like "mom", "wife", "friend" - names that are great, but don't say anything about who we are specifically? How often do we forget the good and focus on the not-so-good, or maybe just brand ourselves generically and allow those phrases to influence how we identify ourselves and how we go about our lives?
When I felt led to look into becoming a doula, I was pretty good at coming up with other names for myself. After helping my best friend welcome her second child, I kept coming upon opportunities to look deeper into serving women in pregnancy and birth. I remember feeling like the Lord was speaking to my heart and leading that way and me saying, "no thank you."
I remember praying and saying that "I am a designer, and I'm pretty good at it; I'm not good at anything else. That's not my personality to work with lots of women; I'm not gracious enough to do that. I'm not made to live without a schedule; I'm too OCD for that. I am barely making it in my comfortable life now; I'm unable to take on anything else." And so on. I kept listing all of my labels, and finally realized that those were all descriptions I had given myself. And when I started looking at the truth of who God says I am, the labels and promises he gives all of us, none of the identifications I was using as excuses held up.
Here is what I did find that holds up for all of us:
"I'm not good at anything else."
Ephesians 2:10 says that I am God’s masterpiece and am created anew in Christ Jesus, so that I can do the good things he planned for me long ago. This reminded me that He created me uniquely, for a specific purpose, and that I may have gifts and talents that hadn't even been uncovered yet.
"I'm not gracious enough."
2 Corinthians 5:17 reminded me that, being in Christ, I am a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come. And as such, I was created to live freely and serve others humbly in love. By living in step with the Spirit, I am able to serve with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5). Those are my qualities and labels to claim.
"I'm too OCD."
I was accustomed to making my own plans (and honestly, often bending everyone else's to fit mine). I found real peace knowing that even if I couldn't plan out every day and detail, everything would still work out. And when I did make plans, if I did so keeping God first, those were going to be more successful than anything I came up with by myself (Proverbs 16:3). His are always better than mine anyway, even if (and sometimes especially if) I don't know what the plan is ahead of time (Jeremiah 29:11).
Whew - if ever there was a recurring theme in birth work, this is it.
In my own strength and by my own will, I am unable. But always have the option to choose a different path. By leaning on God's abilities, there's nothing I am unable to do. He'll even do more and provide more abundantly than I can even ask for (Ephesians 3:20). And He gives me every single thing I need to do his work down to the smallest details (2 Corinthians 9:8). I'll tell you right now that as a person who goes to bed at 9pm like clockwork, having the strength and stamina to provide physical and emotional support for clients sometimes days at a time - that's all God. Not one ounce is by my own effort.
So having the confidence to go forth in exploring a whole new life course - even without knowing the path or plan, I began this business and have discovered so much more about who I actually am. And even more than that, how truly good my God is. I couldn't begin to name all of the miracles and answered prayers I have witnessed in the last three and a half years, but I can tell you that I regularly try to be a lot more intentional about being mindful of who I am (and whose I am) and why I'm here.
By Design Birth Doula Services was the mouth-full of a name I chose for this business because it is the business that would have never been had it been up to me. But I was designed for this. I know with every part of my being that I am given everything I need to do this job well. And this name is a regular reminder of why I followed this particular call and where my focus needs to be.
By Design, I am made to love others more than myself, serving in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control that is not of my own efforts.
By Design, this work brings opportunities for God's light to shine through the cracks of this imperfect vessel that he has entrusted with this particular assignment.
By Design, I am right here in this geographical location, at this place in history, meeting the exact clients whom I am to serve.
By Design, there is something that this world can only get from you. And it is so special, and so needed - even if you haven't discovered it yet.
So I'll ask again. What name are you going by today?
*Fun Fact: We ended up passing down "Elizabeth" to our first child. And having her own, special pledge to God, she is anything other than a reflection of an "unoriginal hand-me-down".