August 6, 2008
What's in a Name?
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
A few months before marrying David, I had an identity crisis.
It all started with a simple comment he made about my name changing. “Mrs. David Britton – I like the sound of that,” he said.
I lost no time correcting him. “You mean Mrs. Katherine Britton, don’t you?”
“Nope. I mean Mrs. David Britton,” he said, grinning.
Apparently I’ve got a little of the feminist in me, because I absolutely, 100%, definitely did not like that idea. Just who did he think he was to claim me so completely? Honestly. Getting married didn’t change who I was. I could handle changing the last name and being associated with him. But this practice that made us practically the same person just didn’t fly. What happened to “Katherine Peters” when “Mrs. David Britton” came along? It might seem silly, but I was genuinely annoyed with the powers that had so ordained this tradition.
As you probably guessed, my annoyance generated a few conversations with friends over the next week. I slowly realized that, in my mind, David was infringing on my identity as a person. Getting married meant giving up a little bit of myself, or so I thought.
All those conversations, however, pointed me away from tradition and to the verse in Galatians. Paul wrote that he “had been crucified with Christ” so that his life was completely identified with his Lord’s. Baptism itself symbolizes putting to death the old self and coming up as a new creation in Christ. And Ephesians is littered with parallels between Christ and his church and human marriage (Ephesians 5). In all these things, there was an element of dying to self to be unified with Christ. It began to make sense.
You know how people refer to their spouses as their other half? In the marriage analogy, identifying with each other doesn’t make anybody lose their identity; it makes both more complete as the “two become one” (Mark 10:8). The two catalyze a synergistic effect, where the result far exceeds the sum of one plus one.
The analogy became clear: I had to give up my identity as Katherine Peters to become Mrs. David Britton. I have to let go of my very nature if I really want to be identified with Christ. It’s an all-or-nothing deal that changes not only how people see me, but who I am.
That paradox of dying to self to live more fully isn’t just a marriage analogy, however. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says this on the topic:
“Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self… You must throw your self away 'blindly' to so speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that… look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
Truth be known, I don’t exactly know what I’m getting into with this whole marriage thing. I don’t what adventures that all-or-nothing commitment will bring, but I am reminded that it’s all worth the price. With Him, I’m more fully myself than I’ve ever been.
Intersecting Faith & Life: St. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “Our hearts are restless till we find our rest in Thee.” Are you satisfied in your identification with Christ? Or does your heart wander like in the old hymn, trying to find your own identity beyond Christ? Ask yourself what you seek to be known for and known as. Do you seek to be known as the bride of Christ?