a new name

Posted: January 8th, 2010 | Filed under: life | Tags: | 8 Comments »

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.” -Revelation 2:17

I was watching a documentary on human trafficking the other day called ‘Very Young Girls.’ Most of the film was based out of a place called GEMS located in New York. GEMS is a facility for girls who are trying to get out of ‘the life’ and the cameras followed a few of them as they went through that process.

Most of these girls are manipulated into prostitution at the age of thirteen. They are told they are beautiful, loved and promised a better life if they can just make the money to get out of where they are. The psychological trap is not a lot different than a woman who stays with her abusive husband. ‘He loves me.’ The girls are so torn down that they are dependent on the dysfunctional combination of daddy-boyfriend-pimp for everything. When the girls are selling their bodies, they are doing it out of love (as they understand it) for their pimp.

I connected with an experience that one of the girls had as she was signing in to the GEMS program. She was filling out her paperwork and didn’t know what name to put down. She could write the name she used in her prostitution world: Vanessa, or she could use the name she was born with: Carolina. The hang up for her was that nobody knew her as the girl who wasn’t a prostitute. She was so detached from innocence that she didn’t know if she could use her own name anymore.

It made my heart ache because, though all of our lives and choices are different, self loathing feels the same. This girl, as she heals, will be able to separate herself from her mistakes a little bit more than most because she has a ‘clean’ name. She wasn’t her ‘real self’ when she was living that life. That was somebody else.

Aching to be something less damaged is not exclusive to the obviously damaged. We all walk around with the pain of not wanting to be what we’ve done. A believer can have faith that God sees them as clean, but not have the ability to see themselves as clean. God does not remember, but people do. You can see the reflection of your sin in the eyes of someone else and it has the power to cripple you with shame.

I hope that it comforts you to know that God sees you as something you’ve never even imagined. Your identity in Him is so detached from even your best qualities that He’s given you a new name and, one day, we will be known as He knows us.

You’ll get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God. You’ll be a stunning crown in the palm of God’s hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God. No more will anyone call you Rejected, and your country will no more be called Ruined. You’ll be called …My Delight…because God delights in you. -Isaiah 62:2-4

a new name

I want to add that the GEMS website has a ‘donate’ page and among the opportunities to help them are wish lists for Target and Amazon.com. They need simple things like bras and underwear and items to take care of the babies. These girls escape their pimps with nothing but the clothes on their back. If we can make it easier for them to survive in practical ways, the chances of them not going back are better. It’s a great idea and an easy way to contribute to a fantastic organization. Here’s the link: Donate to GEMS!


8 Comments on “a new name”

  1. 1 Jason said at 7:36 am on January 8th, 2010:

    My heart just breaks for these girls/women. I want to jump in to help fight this battle so hard and I've been researching groups in Nashville that are doing this so I can help out. The church needs to rise up and say enough is enough.

  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 7:55 am on January 8th, 2010:

    There is so much pain out there. We're supposed to 'Bear one another's burdens….'

    I want to add that the GEMS website has a 'donate' page and among the opportunities to help them are wish lists for Target and Amazon.com. It's a great idea and an easy way to contribute to a fantastic organization.

    Here's the link: http://www.gems-girls.org/donate/in-kind-donation

  3. 3 Julie said at 9:29 am on January 8th, 2010:

    Love the picture you used – and again your words aim right at the heart!

  4. 4 Jen said at 9:58 am on January 8th, 2010:

    Absolutely love the picture!! And, I ALWAYS love what you share. Jesus has given you such a gift in your insights and writings. Keep keeping on! Love you Serena!

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 10:52 am on January 8th, 2010:

    Julie & Jen- I love that photo, too! 🙂 thank you for the encouragement. Always appreciated.

  6. 6 M* said at 1:35 pm on January 8th, 2010:

    yes … name=identity

    say it sister

  7. 7 Dawn Carter said at 5:27 pm on January 8th, 2010:


    I *love* your blog. I just found it because I follow GEMS on Twitter and they referenced your post.

    I so appreciate your comment, "self loathing feels the same…" I serve at our sexual abuse healing ministry at church and absolutely hear that theme from beautiful women who have unhealed, broken hearts.

    Thankfully, we have a Healer who gives us all new names.

    Love your heart, sister!

    Dawn Carter


  8. 8 Serena Woods said at 5:48 pm on January 8th, 2010:

    Dawn, thank you for checking out my blog. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse myself. I admire the important and gut wrenching work that you do.