“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Since I was a child, I never seemed to fit in…into my family, my school or even jobs I signed up for. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t struggle with my identity.
We all know that being secure is the key to creating a stable life, but I wasn’t aware of how I could find that ‘thing’ that was missing…I just knew something fundamental was askew.
From the time I could pronounce my middle name, I felt it wasn’t fitting for the way I saw myself. Whenever I peered in the mirror, my colorful imagination envisioned I was a princess and Julia Miki just didn’t seem to invoke feelings of royalty. I often wondered how I was going to build an empire with a name that summoned visions of Mickey Mouse?
This idea bothered me to the degree that I would stamp around the house, inquiring my parents “Why must I be stuck with your name preference? Especially since I’m the one carrying it?”
One day in Junior High, I decided to stop complaining about it and just do something.
I came home from school with my big announcement.
“I’ve christened myself as Julia Lauren.”
My mother rolled her eyes.
“Julia, why can’t you just be satisfied with what was given to you?”
I blinked in ignorance for I didn’t have an answer. Instinctively, I knew if I wanted to create a life reflective of my dreams, I couldn’t settle for what was handed to me; someone else’s vision would muddy the process.
Even if my driver’s permit reflected a different name, a huge shift was made that day.
This didn’t mean I didn’t struggle. The name Lauren meant, “wisdom and honor” and I had none of that! Although the meaning was important, I chose that name for its regal aesthetic; I imagined the lavish curves of how the letters ‘L’ and ‘N’ would look when I signed my name.
Fast forward a few years. I’m nineteen; I am still insecure, desperately searching for my strengths, gifts and identity, signing paperwork for my first shift at a strip club.
“What’s your name?” The manager didn’t bother looking up from his desk.
“Julia.” I nervously sputtered, fumbling with my garter.
“The paperwork says that’s your birth name. For your own protection and for how the club works, you gotta pick a different name.”
I was excited at the prospect of choice, but from the look on this guy’s face, it was apparent I had to come up with something quick.
“Ariel.” Ironically, I announced my favorite Disney Character. (Remember Mickey?)
After working the strip club circuit for about twelve years, wandering in and out of random names and places, I was still desperate to know my purpose and who I was meant to be.
Then, God pierced through the darkness of my life.
That doesn’t imply I didn’t have to deal with the imprint of a decade of bad decisions left on my body and mind. I lived in the midst of dichotomy; doing what I needed to survive yet going against my core beliefs. The toll showed up with a diagnosis of Osteoporosis at the age thirty-three; I watched in horror as hair fell out in clumps, fear and anxiety keeping me awake most nights.
As I read God’s word, I learned that no matter what was implied by my father, grandfather and teachers, my life was not a mistake; I was not an orphan desperately searching for identity, purpose and meaning. I was a child of God, inherently valuable because of who’s I was. This revelation was the security I was searching for and for the first time, I was willing to let go, trusting God to reveal who He designed me to be.
Daily, I delved deep into scripture. I found myself looking up words and their meaning, and that’s when I stumbled across the word, ‘Shalom’.
The Hebrew meaning of words are richly multi-dimensional and the meaning behind Shalom did not disappoint; Shalom meant: nothing missing or broken, perfectly safe, sound, healthy and complete. Shalom signifies wholeness, peace, soundness, tranquility, prosperity in every form, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord, a state of calm without anxiety or stress. It means cessation of hostility and the one God favors. It represents God’s actual presence.
The moment I read this, the warmth of total acceptance flooded my heart. Hope buoyed me.
My memory had me looping back to Junior High when I decided to name myself, then to the seedy environments that put their label on me.
I knew if I wanted Shalom for myself, I should claim it. Besides, what better way to claim something as yours than to take its name for yourself? Isn’t this what hearts do when they align themselves in covenant relationship?
So, this my friends, is the meaning behind my name, Julia Shalom.
Life is a series of choices (or even indecision). This means I must continually choose the path I’ve prophesied over myself. You see, it is up to me to protect God’s foundation of peace. If I don’t want a hapless life, I must be intentional in my choices, making sure they align with God’s vision. Anything less will stop good things from coming.
The Lord has shown me that anything, person or activity attempting to steal my Shalom is something I must prayerfully consider before moving forward.
I pray God fills you with the peace and wisdom to know you are worthy of the vision He has placed upon your heart. Settling for less is not His plan for your life but if you continue to do things your way, that might be all you get.
Prayer for peace and proper identity:
Thank you that your mercies are new every morning!
A fresh start can only come from repentance, so Lord, hear my remorse!
Forgive me for not having a thankful heart for this has opened the door to depression and never being satisfied.
I choose to trust your capable hands. As I humble myself to reach for your help, fill my heart and body with tangible peace.
Align my will with yours.
Today I choose to forgive everyone not capable of meeting my needs. Fill my heart with forgiveness and gratitude as they’ve taught me priceless lessons about relationships and myself. Let my mind retain every lesson and let my body release every judgment.
Today, I remove every label put upon me (including ones I placed upon myself); labels that did not align with your vision for my life.
I choose to be grateful for the journey. I choose to let go of perfection. And these choices will invite healing on the deepest cellular level.
You’re a good Father who knows exactly what I need, and this is why I trust you to lead.”