What’s your name? I’ve been thinking a lot about names lately and what they represent. I’ve always had a genuine interest on what a person’s name means. I can remember being 8 years old and getting an encyclopedia with all sorts of plants and flowers in it. To my surprise, in the encyclopedia there was a plant named “Angelica”. To me that was the coolest thing! I felt special! And that is the first recollection I have of my newfound love for what a name really means. When I was about 12 I went online to look up the meaning of the name Angelica; the first meaning I found was “God’s messenger” and we’ll get back to that later. Years later, when I was a freshman in college my professor assigned us an essay as the final project. We had to revisit the day we were born (July 6, 1994, for me) and find out what happened that day or the days leading up to that day—from the political climate during that time to what movie was premiered that week. We had to ask the people involved in our birth how things went down—who took my mom to the hospital, who was present during the birth, how long was she in labor for, at what time was I born… and why did my mom give me the name she gave me?
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE when my mom tells me stories about my childhood, especially those things that I can’t recollect. So, to me learning about why she chose Angelica as my name was exhilarating. As it turns out there is a story behind it, but for time’s sake, find me if you want to hear about it. What’s important here is that there was a reason as to why she gave me that name. I wasn’t named after a plant, and she didn’t really know what the origin of my name was, but to her my name had a meaning—it had a purpose. After writing that essay I started to look up the many meanings of the name Angelica and came across some characteristics associated with the name. I felt so identified. I read them and thought “Yes! That’s me! That describes me perfectly. I love my name!” But that wasn’t always the case. I didn’t always love my name; particularly when I was in first and second grade and people used to call me Angelica Pickles. Yep. I was known as the mean girl from the Rugrats simply because of my name, and I wasn’t even mean! I was quite the opposite actually! I wouldn’t wear piggy tails because that associated me with Angelica Pickles. It was the worst! *sigh* Triggered.
Anyways. I got the idea to write this blog while I was at work. I currently volunteer for the Orlando Police Department and one of my jobs is to look up individuals’ names and search their criminal histories. It was interesting to me that those individuals are assigned a number that follows them everywhere because when they start living a life of crime they tend to change their names. As they go deeper and deeper into the criminal cycle, they start to lose their identity.
This year when Mainstream was doing the Daniel’s Fast, and The Voice started the small groups, I told the people in my group that my goal for fasting this year was to find my identity in Christ. I wanted to know who I was in Him. I wanted to know what are the characteristics that need to be associated with me if I call myself God’s daughter. See, it is easy and exciting for me to find what make me who I am. I’m Angelica; I’m a Christian; I’m a social introvert; I’m afraid of public speaking; I’m 23 going on 50; I love bread; I love swimming; on rainy days I enjoy taking naps, or putting on some smooth jazz and reading. My favorite color is teal; I’m really close to my mom and dad; I have three younger siblings; I have a slight case of road rage; I’m currently getting a M.S. in Criminal Justice; I speak Spanish; I’m a Panamanian born and raised in Panama.
There are a lot of things that make me who I am; but my name is the one thing that is the dearest to me—it’s my number one identifier. However, that is not what is going to help me get closer to God, it is not what will help me trust Him blindly, it is not what will give me the strength and the ability to lead people to Christ, and it certainly won’t get me to heaven. According to “behindthename.com”, Angelica derived from Latin angelicus meaning “angelic”, ultimately related to Greek αγγελος (angelos) meaning “messenger”. But that alone doesn’t make me God’s messenger. My identity in Christ makes me His messenger. As children of God we have certain responsibilities, privileges, and certain characteristics that describe us. We have an identity that should define our actions. Romans 8: 14-16 says:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
As a Child of God…
- I am a branch of the true vine, and a conduit of Christ’s life. (John 15:1, 5).
- I am a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15).
- I have been justified and redeemed. (Romans 3:24).
- My old self was crucified with Christ, and I am no longer a slave to sin. (Romans 6:6).
- I will not be condemned by God. (Romans 8:1).
- I have been set free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2).
- I am a fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17).
- I have been accepted by Christ. (Romans 15:7).
- I have been called to be a saint. (1 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1, and Colossians 1:2.)
- In Christ Jesus, I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17).
- God leads me in the triumph and knowledge of Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14).
- The hardening of my mind has been removed in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:14).
- I am a new creature in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- I have become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- I have been made one with all who are in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28).
- I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:3).
- I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God. (Ephesians 1:4).
- I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ. (Ephesians 1:7).
- I have been predestined by God to obtain an inheritance. (Ephesians 1:11).
- I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Ephesians 1:13).
- Because of God’s mercy and love, I have been made alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
- I am seated in the heavenly places with Christ. (Ephesians 2:6).
- I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works. (Ephesians 2:10).
- I have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13).
- I am a member of Christ’s body and a partaker of His promise. (Ephesians 3:6 and Ephesians 5:30.)
- I have boldness and confident access to God through faith in Christ. (Ephesians 3:12).
- My new self is righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:24).
- I was formerly darkness, but now I am light in the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8).
- I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20).
- The peace of God guards my heart and mind. (Philippians 4:7).
- God supplies all my needs. (Philippians 4:19).
- I have been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10).
- I have been raised up with Christ. (Colossians 3:1).
- My life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3).
- Christ is my life, and I will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4).
- I have been chosen of God, and I am holy and beloved. (Colossians 3:12).
- God loves me and has chosen me. (1 Thessalonians 1:4).
There’s a lieutenant at OPD that calls me Panama. Now, that it NOT my name, but for some reason it brings me joy knowing that he calls me that. I’m so proud of my nationality that being called Panama makes me genuinely happy. But it also puts a bit of pressure on the way I act; because I might be the ONLY Panamanian they’re going to meet, so I need to make a good impression. The same thing applies when we call ourselves Christians… when we call ourselves Children of God. Are we upholding the name of God? Are we keeping his commandments? Are we showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Pastor Jason Alvarado once said that the first thing that we should identify as is as children of God; that alone should guide who we are. That alone should determine how we act and react to situations. I want to get more excited to be called a child of God than I get to be called Panama. I want to worry more about people remembering that I am a Christian than people remembering that my name is Angelica. I want my identity to be solely based on who created me. It is not easy to live up to something so great but that’s why we have Him to guide us every step of the way. We are God’s representation here on earth; after all He made us in His own image. Let’s take ownership of being called children of God. Let that dictate who we are. I want to grow so close to God, that the characteristics that I mentioned above are the first things that describe me when I think of who I am.
I am Angelica, but most importantly I am a Child of God. Before I am anything else, I’m His. And THAT is the most wonderful name that anyone could ever give me.