Over the New Year’s weekend we traveled to Albuquerque for a very special wedding. Shannon’s niece Shannon Kelsi Lynch was married on January 1st to Montana Damron. The wedding was absolutely beautiful, and young Shannon showed off her many skills in putting together a memorable event. Congratulations to two very impressive young people.
While we were in Albuquerque we took advantage of the opportunity to worship at Christ United Methodist Church, which is pastored by Rev. Kim Kinsey. Kim was our pastor in Aztec for several years and it was really good to see her again. Her message was about the importance of the names that God gives us, and it really hit the spot for me.
When I meet new people, or introduce people I know to other people I know, I have found myself searching for a point of reference, something interesting I can share about that person, and that usually ends up as a commentary about what they do rather than who they are, as though they need some kind of justification for knowing me. I have been aware of this tendency for some time and have started just introducing people by name and letting them take it from there.
As of the first of this year I am officially retired, from my business of 30+ years as a custom belt maker and leather craftsman, from the church as the financial secretary and as the worship leader, from my ministry position as Lay Leader, from my position on the Board of Directors of the Four Corners Emmaus Community. I think that one of the dangers of retirement is losing one’s perceived identity. It is easy to find safety in these labels, the words that define us, the things that we do. None of this is who we are.
Our names are important. They often describe some attribute or characteristic, or give us something to strive for. The pastor who officiated at Shannon and Montana’s wedding talked about names. Montana means mountain, solid, steadfast. Shannon means river, flowing, lively. They complement each other, and working together can achieve great things. But the things they achieve will not be who they are.
This year I will try to live without labels, the ones I give myself and the ones I ascribe to other people.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10New International Version (NIV)
As I start a new year and a whole new phase in my life I will strive to be a Child of God, to see myself as He sees me, and to fulfill all of the potential He sees in me. That is who I am.