Posted by: JennyRain | December 31, 2009

The Power of Naming

Two weeks ago as I was praying for something big – but feeling hopeless about it actually happening – I heard the following float through my spirit.

This battle is not about how you see God, but how you see yourself

Immediately, God reminded me of some of His characteristics…

For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1.37)

Is anything to difficult for the Lord? (Gen 18.14)

Nothing is too difficult for You. (Jer 32.17)

…With God all things are possible. (Mt 19.26)

God is fully-able to accomplish the impossible. He is also fully-willing (“we have not because we ask not”).The problem is not with God – the problem is how I see myself before God.

I discovered that I still feel somewhat powerless over naming my environment.

Because I feel powerless over this “naming” activity, I am struggling to see that what I am actually praying for is God to enter into a very unjust circumstance and bring justice.

Isaiah 58.2 states “They ask for just decisions…” I am reminded by this scripture that only a JUST God can mete out just and righteous decisions.

I have my solution to the issue I am attempting to pray about – a JUST God!

But, the problem not with who God is. It is that I am questioning if I have correctly named this particular problem as “unjust.” I am questioning my ability to correctly discern my environment.

And if I perceive that I am unable to name something as wrong, or bad, or unjust – I will then question my right to pray about it. My prayers will lack fervency and power because I see them as not worthy before a Just and Righteous God.

Perceived powerlessness over naming your environment impacts every aspect of your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and relational journey.

Where in the world did this perception that I am prohibited from defining my environment come from?

As I explained in my previous posts on identity, I grew up in a pretty chaotic environment. Once I was through high-school, I was so used to chaos that I began to perpetuate it myself.

Chaos and dis-ease were prevalent in my developmental years. This was not all there was (my life was a picnic compared to what many experience), but when it was bad – it got ugly.

Somewhere in my spirit I knew some of what I was experiencing was not normal or functional, yet, each time I attempted to name something as I perceived it to be, I was told that I was wrong.

I attempted to name something as a “fight” and was told that it was a “mere failure to communicate.”

When I called an action “enmeshed” or “over-protective” I was told that I would understand it as “normal parenting.”

If I labeled something “unhealthy” I was informed that it was simply “my over-active imagination” or “my tendency towards over-dramatization.”

Years ago, I penned the following about my developmental years…I share this not to blame my parents… we all did the best we could with what we knew at that time.

Dysfunction is the norm in my family. I have the rare type of dysfunction that has a pretty face. When you first get into the boat, it looks normal and doesn’t rear it’s ugly head until you are far out to sea and you are stuck. This is the storm I was born into. Chaos and abandon were frequent visitors and I was unable to escape the heartache that seemed to be my constant companion. It was like being on a boat in the middle of the ocean about to capsize and listening to your parents tell you that there is no storm.

In effect, I was prohibited from naming my environment.

To some degree, parents have to do this. It protects a child from being exposed to things they are too young to comprehend. We all use euphemisms to explain away certain circumstances because it prevents cognitive implosion or emotional overload.

However, when we are completely prevented from naming during our life-span development, eventually we lose the power to co-create our environments.

The loss of co-creation then results in a feeling of powerlessness.

We begin to believe that life happens to us, instead of us happening into life and are left victims to circumstances, events, and people. We lose trust in our intuition and instinct and give power to others to define our environment.

In my case, I saw the “bad” around me, but because I was not allowed to name it as such, I learned to call “bad” “good.” We all did – to some degree – so that we could survive our dysfunctional system.

The problem is, it is a survival strategy that still exists in my psyche. Though it has gone underground, it will randomly surface in strange areas (like this morning’s prayer struggle).

The other problem is that this perceived lack of authority to name our environment is NOT biblical.

In Genesis 2 God gives Adam the authority and responsibility to name the animals in the garden. God brought to Adam each of the animals in verse 19 and then “whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name”

God gave Adam freedom to determine the names of the animals in the garden and in effect:

“takes the human decision into account when shaping new directions for the creation. Divine decisions [creation] interact with human decisions [naming] in the creation of the world [living]” (New Interpreters Bible Commentary, Genesis)

So my formula for this is: CREATION (God) + NAMING (God gifts this to man) = LIFE as we know it.

It is a beautiful formula of God gifting man with the power and authority to be involved in the creative act of living.

Now – I want to clarify – I do not believe that simply by “naming” something we “create” it – that INVERTS my formula. God creates and God grants us the ability to become involved in His creation through naming.

I love that.

And in the naming, the named item is not made subordinate to the namer. Think about Hagar in Genesis 16.13 where she names God “El Roi” – her simple naming activity does not subordinate the God of the universe – it is just an activity that God gives her creative freedom over.


I mean, do we really get that? When we grant others the power, freedom, and authority to name their environment we are saying “I trust that you are discerning about this relationship – therefore – I am sharing with you the freedom to name it as you see it.”

But When we take away the right of naming we are in effect saying, “You do not have the competence to define this relationship. I do all of the naming here. I will define the environment you are living in.” When we are robbed of our right to name – we begin mistrusting our ability to understand and have power within our living environments.

Daily I am learning to name my environment. Daily I am choosing to see things as they are and to trust that I am seeing them correctly. Daily I remind myself that I have the freedom and authority – as granted by God – to be involved in the creative process of life.

And when I succeed in this act of naming, daily I enter into the freedom in Christ and freedom in my true Identity that I was designed to live in to begin with.

Identity Series:

Part 1: Peering through the Looking-Glass Self

Part 2: Chaos and identity development

Part 3: Further along the road of identity

Part 4: The Power of Naming





  1. […] Part 4: The Power of Naming […]

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