Why is it that every time I see a post on Facebook labeled What Does Your Name Mean? I feel the need to check it out? I already know what it’s going to say. Why are names so important anyway?

Our names define us. A name sets us apart from the crowd. I AM Travis. You ARE…..

We get called many different names throughout our lifetime. Some are names of affection. Those close to me often call me Trav. Those affectionate nicknames typically signify a bond. Not everyone gets to call me Trav.

Unfortunately, we also get called names that are meant to be hurtful and mean.

I think it was obvious to some in Junior High that I was “different”. Luckily I had a friend who was “different” as well. There was a small group of guys that began calling us Peaches and Cream. I don’t really know if I was Peaches or the equally horrible Cream. To be honest, it makes me laugh when I talk about it now. That was NOT the case back then.

I did not want to be different. I wanted to be like everyone else, and I would have given anything to just disappear in the crowd. That is nearly impossible to do in a small town.

There were worse names that we were called but there is no need to get into all that. You get the point. I let those names crush my spirit. I watched as those names broke my friend’s heart. I heard other people called names different than my own.

“Nerd”

“Loser”

“Slut”

This will not be a post about how horrible my childhood was and how those people ruined my life. They were kids. Kids say mean things. I am still friends with several of those people today. We all grew up and moved past it.

Not everyone can do that. Sometimes those names never go away.

When I started going to church I thought the days of name calling were over. I could finally just be Travis. I was so VERY wrong.

I quickly learned that there were biblical names for people like me. They were names that I had never heard before. I did not fully understand what they meant, but they did not sound promising. The fact that they were generally spoken with a hint of disgust made it very clear: God was not a big fan of Travis.

“Abomination”

“Reprobate”

“Pervert”

There had to be a way to change my name. I did not want God to call me by any of those.

I started asking more questions about those names. The one that really sent me over the edge was abomination. It was explained to me that gay people were an abomination to God- that God would literally vomit at the sight of a gay person. I am not kidding. Someone actually said that to me. I would NEVER tell that person about my struggle.

On a side note, I often referred to my orientation as my ‘struggle’ during that time in my life. I have discovered that others in the same situation used that word to describe their journeys as well.

I would give anything to go back to days of Peaches and Cream. At least back then I had no idea that I made God sick to His stomach. These new names did more than break my spirit. They destroyed me.

Why in the world would I want so desperately to follow after a God who despised me? I just could not accept that He felt that way about me. I read my Bible. I prayed. I gave money to the church. I went to Bible College. I gave food to homeless people. I did all the things I was supposed to do for God to love me. I even dated women. Surely God would love me if I dated women.

I decided to do something revolutionary. I decided to not just blindly believe everything that was spoken from the pulpit. God gave me a brain and this wonderful new tool called the Internet. I had a mission. The first step was to understand this intriguing word “abomination”.

The word “abomination” is found in conjunction with homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 in the King James Version of the Bible. I quickly learned that this was translated from the Hebrew word to’evah. There is differing opinions among scholars about the true meaning of this word. However, most agree that “abomination” is not an accurate translation. A quick Google search of to’evah will bring up hundreds of articles debating the true meaning of this word.

I attended Bible College, but am by no means an expert on Biblical languages and translations. All I knew was that this word no longer imprisoned me. I no longer envisioned God throwing up in disgust at my very existence. I still had a ton of questions. I am not sure exactly what answers I hoped to find. I think I was simply searching for proof that God loved me.

The truth is that I could not do anything to make God love me. I could not earn God’s love. It was His very nature to love me just because. (1 john 4: 7-21)

God does have names for me. Thankfully they fall into the affectionate category. He calls me His child (John 1:12). He calls me friend (John 15:15). He calls me forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). He calls me Trav.

What is your name? I may not know it. But trust me on this… God does.

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