I used to get really jealous of people with nicknames. When I was in school, any girl in my class who’d shortened her name and added a “y” to the end had something I really wanted. It wasn’t about the “y,” but more about the casual confidence that the “y” represented.
I wanted to feel casual and confident.
Just to frame this correctly, when I was in 6th grade, I had exactly one friend. I was so the opposite of cool that even the teachers made fun of me.
The elementary school dean walks into the room to check that the girls are dressed appropriately for picture day.
“Good morning, 6th grade! I’m here to make sure that no one’s skirt is too short…(looks at my floor length “Little House on the Prairie” gown with actual petticoat underneath) Oh, Scarlet…I think we’re going to need to call your parents.”
(Me to my best [only] friend, Christy) “Christy – I touched a boy’s hair today! We were standing in line and he had a speck in his hair and I brushed it off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Okay, now that you have a better idea of who I was, let me tell you what happened in Miss Perez’s computer class one day. I was so tired of feeling awkward and uncool. I knew if I had a catchy nickname, like the cool girls, I’d feel the confidence I lacked and become cool, or at least more comfortable.
So, Miss Perez paced around the computer lab and said, “Okay, class. First step – type your name into the box on your screen.”
This was my moment. This was it. This was my chance for the casual, the confidence, the “y.”
So, I typed, “Sandy.”
I felt a surge of electricity enter my body, like I’d gained a superpower.
But, before I could figure out how to make my entire class think it was completely normal to go from calling me “that weird girl with the floor length strawberry print gown” to “Sandy,” my teacher’s voice boomed, “Let’s see who’s following directions.”
Please walk away. Please walk away. Please walk away.
“Scarlet, what did you type in the box?””
I genuinely believed that having a nickname would bring me some sort of happiness and some level of approval. My plan backfired, but of course, even if it had somehow worked out, and I had convinced everyone I was cool and casual Sandy whose skirts never dragged on the floor, I would have still been unsatisfied.
Fighting false identities is something I will likely always struggle with. But I am not Sandy. I’m not even Scarlet. In the deepest most mind-boggling sense, I am Jesus. That name doesn’t need a “y” to be beautiful.
I know from experience that viewing myself as God’s child is the only time I feel the humble confidence that brings peace. Living in that identity is the only way I’m capable of looking at the girls with cool nicknames and thinking, “How can I serve them?” instead of “How can I be them?”
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, all things are made new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
So, I’ll keep talking to God. I’ll keep reading about who He is and who I am in light of who He is. I’ll keep my friends near enough to notice when my humility starts morphing into self-sufficiency and pride, and I’ll keep returning to the truth. And I’ll pray that God grows me to be more like Him.
And I will never wear a petticoat again.