My Name is Renee- But It Used to be Linda



By Rev. Renee (8/03)

     I could never relate to the name ‘Linda’.  I didn’t think it fit me.  I didn’t feel like a ‘Linda’.  Even as a child, I never liked my name, although I had no problem with other women being called Linda.  As an adult, I could not figure out why I had this aversion to my name.  I just felt no connection with it.

     It wasn’t until almost six years after my birth-mother stopped speaking to me (because I had begun to set limits on her control and  manipulation, and on my birth-father’s outrageously abusive behavior) that it dawned on me that I didn’t have to keep the name they had given me.  Little by little, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me about changing my name.  It was a radical idea to me, something I had never thought of before.

     By this point in my life (age 51), I felt as if my birth name was the only thing my birth-parents had ever given to me, unless you count the years of bad memories and a host of stress-related illnesses.  It was something that they had chosen for me to have for the rest of my life, and it became symbolic of how their choices had always been imposed upon me without my consent.  It was the last thing left that still tied me to them.

     Over the next several months, the Spirit continued to speak to me in various ways.  I discovered it wasn’t that complicated to change my name and that I could choose to change it legally or just socially.  One time, unaware of my thoughts and exasperated with her own mother, an acquaintance declared in frustration that she’d like to change her name!

     While I was telling my sister Jennie what I was thinking of, she began finishing my thoughts and sentences for me.  You see, all our lives I had known Jennie by her birth-name, ‘Kelly’.  Even though we talk several times a week, we have lived in different parts of the country for the last 20 years, and are only able to see each other once in a while.  So I was unaware that she had begun to use the name ‘Jennie’ socially a couple of years before.  Recently, the Holy Spirit had been speaking to her as well, telling her to give up the name her birth-parents had given her, and to be more completely known as ‘Jennie’.  We were amazed and joyful that the Lord had been telling both of us the same thing at the same time!

     I began to write down names I liked.  Whenever I heard a nice name, I added it to the list.  The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted a short name- I didn’t want to have to sign a long name like Jacqueline or Stephanie (even though I love both those names!).  I tried out various combinations of first and middle names, to see which ones sounded good together.

     I prayed to Father God to tell me the name he wanted me to have.  It was a big decision and I didn’t want to choose for myself and make a mistake.  The list kept getting longer, and I was getting more confused. 

     But during those weeks, a strange thing started happening.  The name ‘Renee’ kept coming up, over and over again.  I slowly began to focus on ‘Renee’.  When I tried it with different middle names, I really liked ‘Renee Justine’.  I prayed about it, and ‘Renee Justine’ felt right to me.

     When I told Jennie my choice, she looked up the meaning of my new name.  Imagine our complete shock to find out that ‘Renee’ means ‘Born Again’! And that’s not all- ‘Justine’ means ‘Righteous and Just’!  This was my confirmation- my real Father had named me! Thank you Father! 

     Only then did I realize that there are several instances in Scripture of the Lord changing the names of his chosen children.  Although I have read the entire Bible a number of times, for some reason (God’s reason) this did not occur to me before.

     God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (Genesis 17:5) and his wife Sarai’s name to Sarah (Genesis 17:15).  He changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 35:10).  Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (John 1:42), and to James and his brother John, he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘Sons of Thunder’ (Mark 3:17).  Saul’s name was changed to Paul (Acts 13:9).  The disciple Matthew was also known as Levi (Mark 2:14-17, Luke 5:27-32). 

     In Revelation 2:17, God promises that he will give each overcomer a new name, written in white stone.  Sometimes, the Lord told expectant parents what to name their children (Genesis 16:11, Luke 1:13). 

     I began to understand the significance of names in the Bible, and how the Lord reserves the fatherly right to name his own children. Praise God!

     After almost 52 years as ‘Linda’, becoming known as Renee was easier than I thought.  I made it official by having pretty cards printed up, announcing my new first and middle names, including their meanings, along with two Scriptures (see verses marked with *s at the end of this article).  I sent announcements to everyone in my address book, and started introducing myself as Renee.  Sometimes I had to stop myself from saying the wrong name accidentally, but  Renee is pretty much second nature now.

     My friends and family were wonderful, kind, and very supportive.  Many expressed joy that I was cutting ties with my abusive past and wished me nothing but the best.  People have told me that they think my name change was a great idea, and some are now also thinking of doing it, for the same reasons I did. 

     Surprisingly, everyone quickly adapted to calling me Renee.  Even family members in their late 80’s, who have known me since birth, cheerfully made the change. I am so touched by their love and their sincere efforts to help me leave the past behind.  My kids laughingly said my name change was fine with them- they’ll still be calling me Mom!  I am so grateful to God for giving me such loving and supportive people in my life.

     Once people started using my new name, I realized why I had never liked the name ‘Linda’.  Every time I heard it, in my mind I heard it in the nasty, sarcastic, threatening, or belligerent tones my birth-parents used.  I associated it with their voices, as if it was being spoken with a sneer, or yelled at me. 

     But they have never called me by the name Renee, so it remains unspoiled by negative associations.  Now if someone accidentally calls me ‘Linda’, I smile and say, ‘That was my ‘slave name’- now my name is Renee!  It was given to me by my real Father!’  And it truly does represent the freedom from bondage I have been given through the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ!  Hallelujah!  Glory to God!

*I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you….Ezekiel  36:26 NIV

*Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!….2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

A good name is better than fine perfume….Ecclesiastes 7:1 NIV

The nations will see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory; You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow…….Isaiah 62:2 NIV