I was the middle child of five -- a brother and sister older, and a brother and sister younger - right smack-dab in the middle. What do they say about middle children???? We are peace makers, good listeners, see both sides, hate turmoil, get lost in the crowd, make good baby sitters, etc., etc. We have nothing that we can call our own --- it’s either handed down to us or it’s taken from us and given to the next one down. We share bedrooms. We are either being taken care of or taking care of someone else. All of these things describe ME. And a little of all these things are still there.
I look at pictures of the 5 of us and I think of a litter of puppies. A few bigger, a few smaller, but you just knew we belonged together in the same doghouse, in the same backyard, on the same street. There on the couch sit three girls with the same haircut, the same dresses, the same shoes, and the same socks. Everything the same --- except the sizes. The up side? I knew I belonged somewhere. The down side? I was just number three.
It even spilled over into my name. I hated my name, and I still do. Typing it here is even hard --- CORNELIA. There. I did it, but didn’t like it one bit. For one thing, it isn’t one of the modern, feminine, trendy names like girls had back in the 50’s. My friends were named Candy, Susan, Nancy, Judy, and other “normal” things. Secondly, I was once again just one of three. Both grandmothers on either side were “Cornelia” so it wasn’t even an original pick. The worst thing of all was when I looked up the meaning of my name. My interpretation was, “Old Maid.” The book said, “Maiden of God,” but since I was single and not liking it, I took this as my predestined confirmation of my marital status in life.
Such big problems for a 5 year old facing kindergarten, aren’t they? Yet, I can still remember worrying about what they would call me --- Cora or Cornelia????? Both were terrible, but please, NOT Cornelia! My poor grandmother was so hurt by this. She could NOT understand why I didn’t cherish the fact that I was her namesake. I cringed every time she brought it up.
Little wonder, then, that I was less than thrilled later in life when I found out that my name was forever carved on Christ’s hand. I stewed about that for a long time. Then it all turned to guilt: How in the world did my name become such a big, important issue??? ME, of all people, thinking that my name meant anything to anyone at all!! Most of the time, I was called everything BUT my name. My parents had to go through the list of all 5 to get the right one. But usually, I was called, “Sneaky Pete”, “Pony”, “Stallion," "bean pole," "corn stalk” and the crowning name of them all, “Dirty, Rotten, Lousy, Stinkin’, good for nothing Bum.” It’s amazing how, as I type those words, I can feel the knife turn in the heart of the little child in me. As adults, we laugh now about those name-calling times. But isn’t it true that what we are called defines who we are? There was a period of time that I thought perhaps it was one of these nicknames that was carved on Christ’s hand.
Maybe it was true --- that I was all of these things.
I HATE name calling. Call it what you will --- I call it down-right bullying, belittling, heart-breaking, tear-jerking, rot. And when I look into the puddles forming hot in the eyes of a child who has just been “renamed” like this, I feel it burn in my own.
Someday, I will meet Him. And He will reach out His hands to receive me. And I will quickly look to see what is carved there -- Cora or Cornelia? I’ll settle for either of those. But then, surprise of all surprises, He will bend down and whisper in my ear so only I can hear --- A NEW NAME! Something just between me and Him. And there I’ll be, dressed in white --- my very own robe all trimmed in gold -- His hand holding mine. And in my other hand? A stone. I turn it over carefully, and YES, it’s true. There, carved perfectly just for me is my new name. It just makes me wonder. . . . . . . What DID He see when I sat on that couch and posed for the picture? What DID He call me?????