Don’t call me Naomi” she told them.
“Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.
She followed her man.
What else could she do? Famine had taken hold of her land and all that was familiar was rapidly changing before her eyes.
Besides, it’s only temporary, she told herself. Once the famine is over, they will be back. She packed up her belongings and told her two sons to do the same.
Then saying goodbye to Bethlehem, she followed her husband to Moab.
Her name was Naomi which meant pleasantness. Her life became anything but pleasantness, however. First her husband dies leaving her a widow. Then her two sons die as well.
She is alone, far from the familiar of her homeland and waking to a new reality that left her shaken, afraid, and devoid of hope.
One the famine had ended; she was free to return home. While everything there might seem the same, she knew she’d never be the same.
Approaching her homeland, people recognized her, called her by name, “It’s Naomi, she’s returned!”
But she stopped them and told them not to call her that name anymore. It no longer fit me, she told them. She left as Naomi but life events had changed and she had changed.
“Call me Mara,” she said. “I left full but I am returning empty.”
Mara meant bitter and bitter seemed to her, to fit her better than pleasantness. The story though has a happy ending, God saw to that.
This story comes from the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. You can read the happy ending there. I share this because I find it encouraging that the writer of this story, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not change the name of this woman in the remainder of the story. God did not get into agreement with Naomi that her new name should be Mara, He continued to call her Naomi.
Our losses, our pains, our hurts, our confusion, our bitterness do not change how God sees us. In His eyes, we are not defined by these things. We tend to internalize and pick up new names for ourselves but He still calls us His beloved, His chosen, the apple of His eye.
He can still make a happy ending. He can still restore to us for the years the locust have eaten. Would that we could always, regardless of the season we find ourselves in, learn to see ourselves as He sees us.
And call ourselves only names that He would use for us.
Father, forgive me for the times I have become bitter because life cheated me out of my plans and hopes. Forgive me for the countless times I have called myself other names than the names You have for me. Help me to cling to You and believe wholeheartedly that I am Yours, Your beloved, Your child, the apple of Your eye regardless of the mess my life may be. In Jesus’s name, amen.
I would love to hear from you. If I can be praying for you please let me know.
pic credit: daily-encouragement.com