In the book of Daniel, God shares the lives of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. When they were brought to Babylon “the chief of staff renamed them with Babylon names.” (Daniel 1:7) Their names were changed because he wanted them to become Babylonian.
The name Daniel means “God is my judge” in Hebrew. His name was changed to Belteshazzar. Bel means “to protect his life”. Bel also was called Marduk who was the chief Babylonian god.
The name Hananiah means “the Lord shows grace”. Hananiah’s name was changed to Shadrach which meant “under the command of Aku (moon god)”.
The name Mishael means “who is like God”. Mishael’s name was changed to Meshach which meant “who is like Aku”.
The name Azariah means “the Lord helps”. Azariah name was changed to Abednego which meant “servant of Nego/nebu (the god of learning and writing)”.
I think of the labels that I allowed to be attached me throughout the years. Ugly. Dirty. Fat. Disgusting. Unworthy. Guilty. The one who does not belong. Not good enough.
These labels were given to me from traumas, events, from others, from unwise decisions and choices. I saw these labels so often that I began to believe these “new names” that were given to me. I began to allow these names to dictate my thoughts, actions, and choices. When God knit me together in my mother’s womb, he said I was his child. He said that I was loved. He said I was perfect. But those names were changed. The enemy tried his best to strip from me my birthright of the identity that God gave me before I was even born. I started to become what the enemy wanted me to believe about myself…so that I would not be able to complete the plans that God had for me.
Labels are like having your name changed just as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah experienced. But there is amazing…great…incredible news. Our God given name can never be stripped from us. It may feel like it. It may appear that way. We may look in the mirror and see an identity that is distorted, but God’s identity is woven through each cell of our body. We are His children. We are loved. We are His. That is who we are.
Many of us may say, “you don’t know what I have done” or “you don’t know what’s been done to me” or “I am could never see myself that way”. But let me tell you…someone who has rolled around in the mud and mire…one who has walked in the dark…one has sinned and been sinned against….You are His…I am His. That is our identity. The labels, the past, the things we hold on to every day…those are not from God. God’s identity comes from pure, unconditional love.