Moving Slowly to New Pastures

Sooooooo. . . apparently . . . I'm not so good at change. Here's a little chart to explain me, lately.  

Before I got married:

-I dreamily looked forward to having someone help put my kids to bed.

-I looked forward to handing over some financial decisions and responsibility.

-I looked forward to starting a new life with a new last name.

-I looked forward to someone helping to guide, discipline and teach my kids.

After I got married:

-I refused to give up story time and "giving the chills" time with my three kids at bedtime.

-I had no desire to mix one hot cent.

-I felt entitled to keep Aldridge, so that it matched my kids' last name.

-I feel completely offended if Tony disciplines or eludes to my kids needing some behavioral improvement.

Let's just focus on the name change situation.  On a number of Sundays, before May 28th, at church, I would grab a blank card from the pew in front of us, (while listening to the sermon, of course) and write "Holly Sue Walls," all over it, just like I did in 7th grade with my weekly crush.  I thought the sound of "Holly Walls," had a bit of humor in it and I was so excited to be sharing Tony's last name!!!!!  Tony still has these cards in his wallet, as he was just as excited for me to become, Holly Walls.  Fast forward a few weeks to arriving home from the honeymoon.  

I was having a hard time telling people that I was now Holly Walls.  I was not just jumping at the chance to go to the Social Security office, the bank, the DMV, etc. . .  and officially change it (who would be?).  However, as I mentioned in the last post, I have found it easy to be in much prayer through these overwhelming weeks, so I started praying about whether I should change my name or not.  It took about six seconds for God to say, "change it."  So, I changed it.  However, that night, I was telling Tony that it was a lot harder to leave the name Aldridge, than I thought it would be.  I do NOT like having a different last name than my kids.  In true male, try to fix the problem, fashion, Tony replied with, "Well, change it back."  To which my response over the next few days was, "Well, maybe I just will."  (You don't have to tell me how healthy this all sounds).  

These few days were tough ones.  I was resisting change.  Holding back.  And Tony was becoming fearful that I wasn't really fully in the game.  We had late night talks, tears, and a lot of trying to communicate our own points of view.  It wasn't until about 2:00am one night, when I felt desperate for Tony to understand how I felt, even though I didn't really know, myself.  I was praying and praying during this dark night, when I truly felt like God gave me a picture.  It was of me as a horse who could see a pasture that I wanted to go to, but Tony was the rider who was standing in front of me, trying to pull me there.  Every time he pulled, I reared back.  When pulling wouldn't work, he would try to push and poke and do anything to get me there, but as long as he was not gently walking with me, I was not moving.  That picture, struck a chord with him.  We had uncovered the root of what was going on here.  

In the morning, he became the horse.  He felt like a horse with no pasture.  He has moved, the schedule with his kids is different, he gave up his cat (that's true love), he lost his job and found a new one, and to top it all off, he is living in the same house where Dave and I lived.  With that word picture (as ridiculous as it is), I began to understand why he was in such a hurry to establish our new pasture together.   It's amazing how things changed, when we just understood each other.  

In light of our new revelation, he gave me the space to decide on my last name.  I made an appointment to change it back in a week.  In that week, I had numerous conversations with people who kept their last names.  All had good reason and it all made sense to me.  I was starting to feel great about becoming Aldridge-Walls.  I could get the best of both worlds.  

But something was still not sitting well with me whenever I would think about re-adding Aldridge.  First, I knew that God was clear with me to change it, in the first place.  Knew it!   Second, my reasoning for changing it back felt iffy.  Part of the reason I didn't want to change it, was because I feel like people assume I got a divorce, if my last name is different from my kids and I don't like that feeling at all.  I understand that there is all kinds of wrong in that last statement.  Third, sentences that ran through my head were like, "It's my name.  It should be whatever I want it to be."  Those sentences didn't sound very gracious or loving.  And finally, I started to feel like it was something that I was holding onto, WAY too tightly.   I have learned (not quickly) that when you aren't willing to let go of something, that it becomes a burden, instead of it bringing life.  My identity and the name that connected me with my kids on paper was becoming an idol of sorts.  I didn't want to give it up, because I just didn't want to and I had plenty of rational reasons to support my cause.  But I really believe, grace is in what IS, not in what WAS.  I know I say that, but I'm still not running for new pastures.  I'm getting there, though . . . slowly and by His grace.       

All, that to say, I am Holly Sue Walls. 

Christina's Take:

As hard as it is to picture you as a horse, I totally love your analogy - makes me think of the "Horse Whisperer" movie where the horse has been through trauma and needs the help of someone else to help it fear less and live a normal life. Word pictures have been so helpful in my marriage (remind me to tell you the one about me telling my husband that being a stay-at-home mom is just like being a plumber). They keep the language off of your own plight and puts the situation in a more philosophical realm which helps the emotions neutralize. Not always. But sometimes. Possibly the most important part of this blog post is that you said you sensed God telling you to change your name. You said "He was clear with you." To see that you had some hesitations and some confusion and THEN came back around to wanting your last name to be Walls is confirmation of how you initially heard the Lord. That's a big, stinkin' deal. Glad you're listening.

Have I mentioned that I love the way you process real-time with us, your readers? It gives me permission to talk more honestly about things I know I am inconsistent about. Thanks, friend.

Megan's Take:

There is so much to a name, isn't there?! Our name is something that hits the very core and essence of who we are. When we adopted Kelel and Senait we thought long and hard about whether or not we were going to change their names. In the end, we decided to keep their Ethiopian first names and gave them Ethiopian/American middle names. We wanted them to be able to still have a piece of their Ethiopian heritage with them even though they were now "Nilsens." And believe me, just because they took on the "Nilsen" name did not automatically mean life was rainbows and roses and we were all one big happy family. We are 3.5 years into this journey as a family of six and there are still times when they hurl hurtful words and declare they wish they could "choose a different family" or "go back to Africa to be with their first family." Moments when they are mad and hurt and want to ditch the Nilsen name entirely. And there are other days they wear it proudly. 

When we take our husband's name it means we are "one." And, in that one not so small act of changing your name, you have showed Tony that you are one -- in spirit and in name. Listen, I'm not making any judgements on women who don't change their names or have hyphenated names. That works for lots of people. But in this case, in your case, you very clearly heard God tell you to take Tony's name. This was His direction for YOU. It probably means more than you can even imagine. You are shedding social perception (which is sometimes SO hard to do) and demonstrating that you will not bow to man's perception, you are submitting to God's amazing new plan for your life. Bless you, Holly Sue Walls!!  (I really do like the way that sounds..)

Oh, girls!! I found one last thing!! This is just too good. Revelation 22:4 tells us at the end of our days, "we will see His face (Jesus' face) and His name will be on their foreheads." Jesus' name is the most important one that we want written on our hearts. "...rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20) May it be so!!