Why Bother With Definitions?


Why Bother With Definitions?

Recently I read an article by Jeff Minick, a new favorite author of mine who writes for The Epoch Times, a new favorite newspaper I subscribe to. His article, ‘I’m Doing It’: Resilience and Faith in Our Daily Battles, told the story of a woman who contracted Lyme disease and as a result, everything about her life changed. Though the article focused on resilience, the quality that gets people through difficult times, my takeaway was; how do I define myself? When health fails, as it did for the woman who contracted Lyme disease, and I can no longer do what I’ve always done, does my definition of me remain the same?

Dictionaries and Definitions

I love dictionaries. Along with the pronunciation, part of speech, and the origin of the word, they give words their precise meaning. But, when I look for my name in a dictionary, I am not there. Mother Teresa, an Albanian nun, Teresa of Avila, a mystic writer, and Teresa of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun are listed, but not Terese Luikens. How then, am I defined and where do I find a definition for who I am?

 Eva, the woman whose life was changed by Lyme disease, left the corporate world in order to focus on treatments to combat her illness. She was no longer a prestigious employee in a Fortune 100 Company. So was she still Eva? When the circumstances of our lives change and we can no longer attach our name to what we do, who are we? 

For many years, I coordinated a community women’s Bible study. I knew a lot of women and a lot of women knew me. I was flattered whenever I was out in public and someone approached me and acknowledged who I was. But then there came a time when I knew I had to step away from that position of leadership and for a while, I didn’t quite know who I was. If I wasn’t a Bible study teacher and coordinator, then who was I?  

 I used to be a competitive triathlete, but I no longer compete. Though I have activities that I am zealous about; bike riding, swimming, running and yoga, who do I become when my body can no longer do any of those things?

Are we who we are because of what we do? In order to give ourselves any kind of definition, I think we have to reach a little deeper for something more than just the things we are capable of doing. I believe our identity is given to us by the One who created us in the first place. 

The Bible is my all time favorite book. From it I gain wisdom, hope and a little insight into who I am and who created me. Thankfully, it is not a book of dos and don’ts. Instead, like a dictionary, it tells me who I am; an eternal being, loved and accepted by an Eternal Being no matter what I can or cannot do. It is comforting to know that I will always be one who is loved by the One who loves me perfectly both now, and forever. It is a simple definition of who I am, but sometimes it is hard to remember that one important fact about my identity. 

Why bother with definitions? It is worth it to know that it is a Who that defines us, not a what. When changes take place, as they will, remembering that the One who gives us our identity remains the same, both now and forever.

Why Bother To Consider Your Names?

Why Bother To Consider Your Names?

My parents named each of their seven children after a saint. I was named after Saint Therese, “The Little Flower.” But, my mom decided to deviate from the spelling by dropping the h.  This particular spelling confused my elementary school teachers, Catholic nuns,  who were used to the spelling Therese not Terese. 

Sometimes people want to add an a at the end of my name, but I’m not a Teresa, I’m just a Terese. Therese is pronounced, The-rese, with the accent on the first syllable, making the e long while Terese is pronounced with more of a schwa sound on the first syllable.   

Terese is not a name that you can shorten like Elizabeth to Beth or Deborah to Deb.  Sometimes one of my sisters will shorten my name to just T, usually when addressing me in an email or in a phone conversation in order to get to their point faster. When I order a coffee I tell the barista that my name is just T simply to make it simple for them.  

Oh The Names I’ve Been Called 

My step-father-in-law called me Trish or Sis. I know for sure it was his term of endearment for me. He’d lost his only daughter in a car accident and when he said Trish or Sis I think he thought of his daughter. 

When I got married, I was known as  Luke’s wife and not Terese. When our sons came along I was known by their friends as Jacob’s mom, Samuel’s mom or Jordan’s mom. 

While growing up, each of my sons called me Mom, and now that they are grown, they each have their own variation of Mom. My oldest calls me Mother, my middle son calls me Mom, and the youngest calls me Mam. I smile at all three. 

Hey Grandma, is how my granddaughter addresses me while my grandson has shortened it to just Grandma. My nieces and nephews call me Aunt Terese or just Terese. One nephew, a large young man, will call me Auntie T. I think it’s because I am his favorite aunt. 

My students call me Miss Luiken. They can’t quite get Mrs. Luikens out of their mouths.  More than once I’ve  pointed to my wedding ring telling them I am Mrs. When they understand that concept, then I’ll move on to telling them that even though my name ends with an s, I am a singular proper noun and not a plural proper noun. I know they’ll get it. The students I had last year and who are now in the fifth grade can now say, “Good morning Mrs. Luikens,” as they walk down the hall  to their classrooms in the morning. 

When I say my name to someone who has never met me before, they mistake me for the famous radio and TV broadcaster, Teresa Lukens. Close, but I’m not a famous personality like her. 

When we consider our names it goes without saying that we are called by a name in which the other person links themselves to us; T, Miss Luken, Trish, Mam, or Auntie T. I’m still the same, just in various formats. 

Why bother to consider your name? It is worth it because it is linked to your identity and how others identify with you. Hopefully, the names fit with who you are and you’ll find a few terms of endearment on your list.