There’s a lyric that resounds in my brain from time to time:
Daughter, you wear my name,
Those are my eyes,
Keep them raised.
It’s from Jakob Dylan’s “War is Kind” and its images echo long after the last note plays. The daughter, an ambassador, burdened or careless of her responsibility. The father, counting on his daughter. She carries his name.
My father’s eyes are blue. Mine are the golden brown of my mother’s. Yet, for a time, I carried his name. Even now I represent the family that raised me.
When I was a little girl, leaving Awana for youth group, my father told my little brother and me to, “Be on your best behavior. You’re minister’s kids.” We never danced on the line of misbehavior, but his word of warning stuck with me. I was proud to represent my family well. Proud to be Charlie’s daughter, proud to be mistaken for Terri on the phone or now, in person.
Over Thanksgiving Break three years ago, I asked my Auntie Jane the origin of my maiden name. It’s an English surname. It means, “to represent.”
Now I am a minister’s wife. I carry a new name, represent a new family. Now I teach at the high school my husband – and sister-in-law, and brother-in-law – attended. When teachers and secretaries and custodians meet me, they picture my husband and his family. They think of what my new family stands for, what they value. I know they expect the same of me. In keeping with my raise, I do my best to always represent my family (new and old) well.
Last names can be weighty responsibilities.
It can be an honor to be held to such high standards. It can be a burden. And we tend to represent more than our families. We represent our friend networks, our churches, our workplaces, our teams, and ourselves. So many roles. So much responsibility.
I’ll admit that in the warzone of life I sometimes forget that I represent the King. When I teach my seniors about Beowulf’s pagan roots and Christian influences, when I talk with my sophomores about dystopian realities, when I analyze gothic poetry with my creative writing students, I am ever the Lord’s representative, the Lord’s ambassador. And it doesn’t end when the last bell rings. It continues at home and at church and when I’m with my family.
Daughter you wear My name,
Those are My eyes,
Keep them raised.
Keep them raised in hope and faith and expectation. The Lord will fight for us, protect us, and go before us into the warzone. Be vigilant and ever aware that you are the Lord’s representative. If you proclaim Him as savior, your responsibility is one of great honor and weight.
Prayer: Lord, may we be ever mindful that above all else we are to represent you and all that you stand for. Thank you for such a marvelous privilege.
Photo Credit: Michael Reavis Photography, Jumbo