Friday, April 17, 2009

What's in a name?

My friend Pastor Tara Sloan (excuse me, Pastor Tara Denson-Sloan) did a post on her personal blog about the hyphenation of of her name or the lack thereof. I understood her issues with this. The "D"as my middle name that is always on any of my signatures or documents stands for Doss (my maiden name) that I took as my middle name when we got married. My grandmother (most Godly woman I ever knew) did this herself. When she got married her maiden name became her middle name. She was Jura Ressler and when she married a Lewis she became Jura Ressler Lewis. (If my grandma did it, I assure you, God is alright with it.) I always admired her for so many things and when I got married, I always knew I would do the same, following her example. I had other reasons than that too as I'll soon explain. Anyway, I dropped my original middle name (Lynn) never to be used again, and immediately went with Doss when we got married, and so therefore Deanna Doss Shrodes is on my...

Social Security card
Debit Card
All my credit cards
My insurance card
On almost every single piece of free lance writing I've ever done.
In the book Chocolate for a Woman's Courage published by Simon and Schuster books, I'm listed guessed it -- Deanna Doss Shrodes...

But do you know the one place my name is not that and never has been? My minister's identification card and certificates! Drives me crazy. Way back when I applied to become a minister, on the application I wrote very clearly my full name, expecting them to write it just like I did on the official documents. Well they did not. They dropped the Doss and kept the Lynn. I remember as clear as day going to the mailbox to get the mail and finding the large envelope with my minister's card and certificate (which is framed in my office) and being so excited it was there........then reading it and going, "uuughhhhhhhhhhh". Larry said, "what's wrong honey?" I hung my head and said, "nothing, they just got my name wrong." I should have called them up right then and there and asked to have it changed but I didn't want to go through the rigamarole of defending it. I didn't know if it was just a secretary's mis-judgment, clerical error, or a well thought out decision. In any case, I had a twinge of disappointment. I regret that now and don't know if I could change it this late in the game.

It's a joke between Larry and I...but when we get into an argument he'll call me Deanna Lynn, just to get under my skin. I usually walk out as soon as he says it and say "there's nobody here by that name..." and ignore what he's saying until he calls me by my proper name (just Deanna, dropping the Lynn) Of course if he keeps it up, I turn around and call him by his middle name (which he hates and I won't print it here out of respect to him) but suffice it to say, we have an understanding in good times of exactly what we want to be called, and why. I would think this is just a basic personal request.

Keeping my maiden name as my middle name makes it easier for people to find me who might have known me in times past and lost track. When I write a piece and it is published, anyone who has ever known me for 42 years knows it's me, not a Deanna someone else. There's no doubt, it's Deanna Doss who grew up on their street, or who they went to high school with, or sang in the choir with in school. It's the same reason I've had the same exact screen name the entire time I have been on the internet. I don't want to change names - somebody might not be able to find me that I want to hear from! (And if I don't want to hear from them, I just press delete, ha ha!) Besides, it's just part of my heritage! Part of who I am. I grew up a Doss, but I am now Larry's wife and we have a family together. Why can't my name reflect both? The answer is, it can. Incidentally nobody really calls me that verbally nor do I refer to myself as that when I talk (although there would be nothing wrong with it if I did), I have just chosen to have my official name as that in anything I write. Make no mistake, I'm very happy to be Larry Shrodes wife, and I'm very happy to be Deanna Shrodes. But I'm also happy to be Deanna Doss Shrodes, because when I married Larry it was just that, a marriage, not a baptism. You know, when you get baptized you go down in the water and you are a new creation...the old is gone...the new has come. You don't ever refer to that "old life" again. Well, on June 27, I was married, not baptized. Yes, I walked down the aisle and started a whole new chapter in life but that didn't mean the previous chapters in the book had to be thrown out and never referred to again! It's still okay to refer to prior chapters now and then if you want to, because they are a part of who you are too, the totality of your life.

A couple in our church was getting married and the girl said to the guy one night that she was going to hyphenate her name or make it her middle name when they got married. He got real upset and angry, and said, "don't do that, that would be a slap in the face to me!" He told her he'd refuse to marry her. I knew right then and there the girl was headed for trouble. If he was that insecure, thought that was a slap in the face and would even break off the engagement over it, what other problems did the brother have? I guess now she's finding out, unfortunately as they have now said their "I do's".

I don't believe a woman should apologize for who she is, or let uptight people in their environment convince them to drop anything including part of their name to make others mroe comfortable. Hypenating or retaining your maiden name is not for every woman, certainly not, and I believe having your own business it does make a huge difference in the equation. Most of the time, you face issues from women who don't agree with your choice to do this. I am convinced those are the ones who don't really live in the leadership world you live in or walk in the calling you have, and will never comprehend it. And that's okay, they don't have to comprehend it, they just need to leave you alone and let you live out your decisions in peace.

Deep down inside, those women probably wish they had 1/4 of the confidence, accomplishments and courage that others do. I'm convinced, when some women make remarks about women like us, inside them there is a root of anger or resentment that they don't feel free to do as they would like to, or courageous enough to make this kind of choice. Because they lived without choices, or simply didn't take advantage of choices that were theirs, they think it's only right that you live the same way they do.

I believe every woman needs to hear this. No, not that they need to retainn their original name. But that it's okay to have choices. On the name issue, I am pro-choice! It's okay to choose differently than others. It's okay to be yourself even if that "yourself" doesn't look like other married women, especially in your church or in your ministry. It's about not being afraid to do what you feel God leading you to do, or that which you feel comfortable with when He leaves it up to you to make the choice. Isn't it so interesting that it's usually not our husbands who grappled with these issues, but others in our lives? That's another thing I've found - people don't know what to do when you have this kind of just leaves them dumbfounded to say anything.

We live in such fear sometimes of just relaxing with who we are. It's time we stop apologizing for living our God-given destinies.

I don't care if Tara calls herself Tara Bara Bo Barah Banana Fanna Fo Ferra Fee fi Fo Fana!!! People should flow with whatever she asks them to call her. How many guys do you know who have names like Horace Egbert Beauregard Jr. and then end up calling themselves "Jr." or "H.B."? Nobody's got a problem with that. I know guys whose names don't even have anything to do with one another. My brother is Charlie and everyone calls him "Bubba." My father is Robert but he hates that name so everyone calls him Leon. Most people have no idea my father's name even IS Robert! Our best friend Pastor Randy's name is really William! Most people have no idea his name is William nor does he want them to. He won't know I told anybody because he hardly knows how to turn a computer on let alone blog, so this is my secret with the rest of the people on the web!!! So keep your Denson, girl! At the very least you're givin' those people in Chicago somethin' to talk about, and a great somethin' at that!

What's in a name? Whatever you want there to be.

Deanna D. Shrodes ~ Equal Time Co-Founder

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