Not too long ago, a friend intentionally named a new bike that she purchased. Intrigued, I asked about it, and she shared that she has a spiritual habit of naming many things that matter to her. A few weeks later, while at an antique vehicle show, an amazing name on a vehicle caught my attention. PERSEVERANCE… the name inscribed on a vintage fire truck arrested me. I was compelled to wonder what stories of courage, dedication and sacrifice that name might be honoring.
The two events caused me to reflect more on the practice of naming people, places, things or even situations that we want to apply positive psychology to. One of my favorite practices for well-being is the use of affirmations. Using them has proven very grounding, especially during challenging times. Affirmations are a type of naming. For example, there was a time I needed extra confidence in a work setting. I wrote an affirming phrase and taped it to my computer — where it stayed for over an entire year. The phrase was simply: “I am capable and calm.” This naming of my desired experience manifested into actuality.
A name can hold a metaphysical power that affirms the essence and destiny of a person, place or thing. Whether it be a child we have named, a pet, a boat, a retreat house, a project, a team, a life group we are part of, a book group, a club, an antique car, a buddy, a friend, or a spouse… what we name matters!
Another process of naming that holds great spiritual significance for me is the way one refers to and honors relationship with the Divine. Did you know that in the Christian Holy Scriptures, there can be found over one hundred nouns and adjectives that are names for God? Through a process of discovery around those names, I chose this phrase (i.e. name) for a way of praying to my God: Strength of My Heart. For anyone that has baggage around their Christian upbringing or patriarchal names for God, this is a great exercise in drawing closer to who God wants to me for you.
So, how does the concept of naming or affirmations speak to you spiritually?
Circling back to the vintage fire truck, I am reminded that many persons, families, vocational endeavors, communities and leaders have persevered through challenging times. Slogans, mottos, names were just one important tool they used for resilience. Isn’t it a timely gift that the name of a vintage fire truck appears to remind us to name our experiences positively, or use affirmations to encourage our journey?
This week, as a spiritual director, I encourage you to be on the lookout and consider “names” or affirmation phrases that will support your life and circumstances!
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Written by Beth Knight