That’s the name on my birth certificate. My Mama called me Angie.
Remember the days of old when our text books at school had our names written in the front? Yep. Always Angie. However, in second grade, in an unrivaled and never again used scheme, I told my teacher, Mrs. Sills, that my name was Irene. Don’t ask. I don’t know.
Then there was the summer before ninth grade when I changed my name to Angi. Because I could change the spelling of a nickname, right? Mama then called me Angie. That cute little display of self-differentiation was universally accepted by everyone except my family. And the yearbook. (Until, of course, I found my way onto the yearbook staff.)
And everyone loves a great namesake song, right? The only two Angie songs I know: Helen Reddy’s song about a girl living in a world of make-believe and a 1973 Rolling Stones breakup song. And of course, the 1943 early blues Good Night, Irene, by Huddie Lead Belly. Not a single inspirational lyric in the three.
I mostly had a love/hate relationship with my name until around 1999. Maybe 2000. I loved the name Angela and I hated Irene. Until I met Mrs. Irene. I met her at church while she served as a weekday volunteer. It was then that we had the best intergenerational conversations, filling the gap of more than four decades.
Mrs. Irene was feisty. I liked that. She was smart. I liked that, too. And she was quick with her conversation. I loved that.
I shared with her one day that my middle name was Irene and how, until we had become friends, I had hated it. Well, except for that one irretrievable nanosecond in second grade.
She enlightened me that day more than she’ll ever know. She asked if I knew what the name Irene meant. (Pre- Google.) I did not, but I surely wanted to know.
“Peace,” she said. The name Irene means peace. I don’t even remember my response at that moment. I probably babbled on about it in some ridiculous way, proof I wasn’t ready to wear it.
Taking in the new information was simple enough. What wasn’t simple was processing the rest of the story. My full name, Angela Irene, means messenger of peace. That’s a hard calling to live up to.
I was about 35 years old at the time. And my life felt like the antithesis of peace. Both inside and out.
Now, I am certain Mama knew nothing about the meaning of my name. It wasn’t some prophetic proclamation placed upon me to be fulfilled. But once I knew, I couldn’t unknow it. And it became something I wanted to be true of me.
Twenty years later. Twenty years of hard heart work. Twenty years of living, growing, grieving, forgiving, and forging ahead in Christ. Surrendering. Loving. Becoming.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
I look around today. And I see our world in pieces. Hearts in pieces. Minds in pieces. Relationships in pieces. And the only One who can really pick up all of the broken pieces is the Prince of Peace. His peace is what restores all of the pieces of broken.
And it’s His peace I want to share with others. With you.
Peace (1515)(eirene [easy to spot my name] from the Greek verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again.
Peace that comes from God, offers peace with God. Wholeness. Not some temporary bandage that slows the bleeding. Not just an outward climate without conflict. But oneness with God.
Ultimate peace is oneness with the One who created you and loves you. That’s what the Prince of Peace, Jesus, offers us. You.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a perfect messenger of peace. But I know the One who is.
May His peace rest heavily upon you.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”John 24:27