GiGi: Just One of My Many Names

I don’t remember the first time I was called GiGi, but according to my mother it first started when my baby brother was learning to talk.

When I was two or three years old, I generally referred to myself as “Paigie.”  As my brother learned to talk, he began call out to me, “Gi! Gi!”

Mom said I would put my hands on my hips and say in a very agitated sort of way, “My name no Gi! My name Paige-GI!”

My mother thought it was a cute nickname, but I hated it. No matter how hard she tried to convince me, I refused to be okay with having GiGi as a nickname.

Eventually, no one called me GiGi anymore.

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The first time I met Jon’s girls, he introduced me as “Mrs. Paige.”  We ate lunch together in a crowded Chik-Fil-A restaurant. Maddie, the oldest, wearing a mismatched outfit complete with a baseball cap pulled to the side, talked a mile a minute. Megan, the younger one, wore a dress and a glittery headband, clung to her Daddy’s arm. I couldn’t tell if it was from insecurity or fear.

As we sat down to eat our lunches, Maddie asked her dad if she could go get some condiments for her sandwich and fries. He gave permission. She left the table. Then five steps later, she turned around and came back to the table, flashed the most brilliant smile I’ve ever seen, and then asked if she could get anyone else something while she was up.

Afterward, when I commented on Maddie’s sweet consideration of others, Jon confessed to me, “Well, I have to admit she completely stunned me! The girl has been listening to my lectures on manners after all!

Megan, who sat cuddled up to Jon, occasionally smiled shyly at me, but mostly she was quiet, allowing her father and older sister to do all the talking.

That was in October. I wouldn’t see his girls again until the last day of 2009.

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It was the New Year’s Eve I had no plans. Always before, I had somewhere to go, something to do, a person to be with … but not in 2009.  It looked like I would be spending the day completely alone.

Jon found out about my lack of plans as we talked late into the night on December 30th.  “Are you sure you have no where to go? Maybe your parents …

“No,” I replied. “They have gone to visit with my grandmother for a couple of days. They will come in late tomorrow evening, but I know they will be too tired from traveling to want to entertain me. It’s okay … I’ll just watch a movie or read a book.”

Well, I don’t like the idea of you being alone on New Year’s Eve,” Jon stated. “You could come hang out with me and my girls … but I would have to okay it with them since they we planned a few special things to celebrate. They are already in bed, so I’ll ask in the morning and give you a call to let you know if they approve.

The next morning, Jon called me bright and early, just as he had promised. “Maddie definitely wants you to come, but Megan isn’t so sure. She would like to talk to you about it first, if that’s okay.

The next thing I know, this small voice came on the phone. “Mrs. Paige, my daddy said you don’t have anywhere to go today. Is that true?

“Yes, it is.”

Oh. So dad is right.”  There was a small pause. Then Megan continued, “Well, Daddy says it would be a nice thing if we invited you. But I’m worried that if you come, then I will be left out.

“Oh, Megan … I don’t want to take you away from your Daddy. Maybe it is better if I don’t come visit today after all, especially if it is going to make you feel anxious. Maybe you and your dad talk about it some more? It’s okay if you decide to say no.”

I quietly hung up the phone, figuring perhaps Jon would call me back in a few minutes, after he had talked more with Megan. I felt like he would confirm what I assumed was going to be the result of that discussion, that his girls needed him more than I needed a place to go so it would be better for everyone if I didn’t join them for New Year’s Eve.

And I was right … well, right about the phone ringing. Everything else I had gotten wrong.

The person calling me back turn out to be Megan.

Mrs. Paige,” she said. “I have decided that I want you to come visit us today. If I were all alone on New Year’s Eve, I would want someone to invite me to visit. Besides, my daddy promised that I will definitely not be left out.

“Megan, I promise you that too.”

Later that day, I showed up to Jon’s with my craft box in tow. The girls and I made a few fun crafts together, bonding over paint and hot glue guns.  Later on, we went out for dinner, going to a Mexican restaurant that had a huge buffalo head hanging on the wall.  As we walked passed the buffalo, Megan held tightly to my hand.

I had no idea that exactly one year to the day I would become Mrs. Jon Hamilton.

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Shortly after Jon and I were married, I asked him if his girls could call me by another name,

“Mrs. Paige just sounds too formal,” I said.

“Okay … what do you suggest?” Jon asked.

“Maybe we could let the girls decide what to call me,” I said.

But a week passed by and neither girl could come up with an idea that suited everyone. Finally, Jon asked, “Did you have a nickname growing up?”

“Not really,” I replied. “Though my brother tried to give me a nickname. My mother said it made angry every time he called me it, so eventually no one called me that name anymore.”

Both Megan and Maddie perked up. “What was the nickname?” one of them asked, eager to hear what sort of name would make me mad.

And so I told them the story … and then said, “But you know, being called GiGi wouldn’t make me feel angry now. In fact, I’d like it very much.”

So that’s how I came to be known as GiGi … and not just to Jon’s beautiful girls, but also to our foster children.

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I’ve gone by many names in my life.  Paige and GiGi are just two. I’m called Mom, Aunt Paige, and Mrs. Hamilton. There are people who even call me by my first name, Angela. And I answer to them all.

However, if you call me something like Margaret or Allison or Bob, I am not going to respond. You see, I have many names, but those names do not belong to me.

Source: http://bibleresources.org/names-of-jesus/
Source: http://bibleresources.org/names-of-jesus/

Sometimes people say that it doesn’t matter what name you call God, for there are many ways to call upon Him.

That’s only partly true.

God does have many names.  He is called Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, and the Bread of Life. He is known as the Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace. He is the Great I Am. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Jesus Christ.

But you can’t just call God by any name …for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12).

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Hallowed be Thy name. ~Matthew 6:9

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The Naming of Me

The summer before my ninth birthday I decided I didn’t like my name.

I had more than one reason for desiring a new name.  To begin with, I didn’t know anyone else with the name Paige.  It was unusual. There were no stores that sold bike tags or key chains with my name printed on them. In a world of girls named Jennifer and Melissa, my name stuck out like a sore thumb. And all I wanted was to just blend into the crowd around me.

It seemed to me most of my friends had nicknames. Cynthia went by Cindi. Virginia was known as Ginger. We called our friend Melissa by the shorter version, Missy. There was no cute nickname for Paige.

Another sticking point for me was the fact that Paige was actually my middle name. Almost everyone I knew went by their first name. My parents had decided, prior to having children, to making a tradition of using their children’s middle names. Both of them used their middle names, so it seemed like a great idea to them. With that in mind, my parents had picked out the names for their children with the intention of using middle names more than first names.  Middle names aren’t so bad, as long as you don’t care about your doctor or your insurance agent forever referring to you by the wrong name.

Furthermore, my first name was Angela, which seemed only added insult to my injury.  I thought Angela was a far more glamorous name than Paige.  It even had the coveted convenient nickname (Angie). Many a night I lay awake in my bed, fuming, “If my mother simply had to name me Angela Paige, couldn’t she at least have called me Angela?”

And finally, there was the story of how my mother arrived at choosing my name.  Other kids I knew were named after a beloved aunt, in honor of a grandmother, or perhaps their mother’s favorite soap opera star.  Even my own sister was named after my mother read a novel with a character named Brooke.  My name?  According to the story my mother always told me, she “found” my name on the sign of a veterinary clinic, where the vet was a Dr. Paige, Paige being his last name, of course.  As if it weren’t already bad enough that my name came off of a sign, I spent the rest of my growing up years with nightmares about falling in love with some man who had the last name Page. I could not imagine anything more devastatingly awful than becoming Paige Page.

I was Angela Paige Terry … the girl with three first names.

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Back to the summer of 1981.  Between the typical summer activities of swimming, Vacation Bible School, and visiting my grandparents in TX, I was enormously excited over the royal wedding of Britian’s Prince Charles. Like all the other girls my age and older, I was caught up in the pomp. I convinced my mother to buy me every magazine with a photo of the royal couple.  And though there was no internet connection in those days, I collected even the tiniest of details about the Prince Charles and his bride-to-be.  My mother even agreed to allow me to wake up at 4 am on July 21st so I could watch the wedding take place in real-time.

photo courtesy: www.telegraphy.co.uk
photo courtesy:
http://www.telegraphy.co.uk

But thirty plus years later, more than the remembering the specifics of their fairy-tale wedding, I recall most being enamored with Lady Diana Spencer. And while I adored everything about her, mostly I loved her name. To my young ears, it was definitely the most regal name I had ever heard. In the depths of my heart, I knew I, too, was meant to be named Diana.

For months, maybe a year or more, I quietly brooded about my name. If only I could figure out a way to get everyone to call me Diana, then my life would be perfect.  One day I discovered from a  discussion at school about how names could legally be changed, a fact I had not previously known. Now, I began to plot in earnest. Surely there must be some way to convince my mother to allow me to legally change my name to Diana.

My mother is not an easy woman to convince. She can be surprisingly stubborn.  To my astonishment, she didn’t agree with a single one of my long list of judgements against my name. In fact, she thought Paige was a perfectly wonderful name.

(Now that I am mother, let me say I completely understand her perspective regarding my name. After all, just like most parents, she chose my name careful consideration. Why would she suddenly decided to change it based on my childish whims? But back then, my brain was apparently only half-baked because I definitely didn’t understand why my mother refused to see things my way.)

Initially, I was heartbroken. I had fully expected her to jump on board with my idea, and when she didn’t … well, I felt discouraged and hopeless about having to go through life with my terrible name.  However, I decided not to give up too quickly.  Again and again, I approached my mom with my request.  Unfortunately, I had no success. My mother would not be moved.

Then one night, to my surprise, my mother responded to my whining with:

Paige, if you really want to change your name, it’s okay with me. However, since your father and I will be the ones paying for this name change, I think it’s only fair we get to choose your next name as well. 

This was not exactly what I was hoping for, but yet I no argument for her logic. After all, I certainly didn’t have the money required to legally change my name. Yet, considering my sister’s name wasn’t nearly as awful as mine, I held out some hope that the second time around she might pick a more beautiful name for me as well. Maybe I could even give her a list of suitable names to consider …

But when I came to her with my list in hand, my mother replied:

Thank you, but that’s not necessary. Your father and I have already chosen your new name.  We agreed you should be named after your great-great-grandmother, Urilla Xerenia. What do you think?

Suddenly, Angela Paige didn’t seem like such a terrible name after all. 

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At some point between jr. high and college, I began to like my name a little better. This wasn’t an overnight decision, but more of a slow process. To begin with, as I traveled with various high school clubs to rallies, contests and conventions, I actually began to meet other girls with the name Paige. I wasn’t as alone as I originally thought.  As I would meet new people for the first time, I would often receive comments on my unique or pretty name.  I began to take these as positive compliments instead of continuing to view them as negatives.

After I moved away to attend college, I began to meet more and more young ladies who were named Paige. Many of them had Paige as a middle name, but most were called by their first names. I can’t recall how many times one of them would lean in to quietly confess, “I always wished my mother would have called me by my middle name. You are so lucky!”

But the day I really learned to love my name was the day God gave it back to me.

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Like any good gift, God’s gift to me came at the perfect time. In the summer of 2007, my then husband left me and our three children. The months that followed were the darkest of my life.  At 34 years old, my life felt over. I could not imagine rising up from the pit where I sat. Not only did I feel completely unloveable, but I also wondered how could God ever use me again?

During this time, God continuously reminded me of His love for me. Almost daily for those first six to eight months after he left, I received unexpected cards, letters, and even packages from friends all over the nation, many of whom I barely knew. Emails flooded my inbox, most of them containing scriptures and prayers being said over me and my children.

And one night toward the end of that dreadful summer, I received a phone call from a lady I really didn’t know at all.

I had never met Sheila in person, but knew of her from an online forum where we both participated. We had never exchanged private communications, and all I really knew about her was she lived in Tennessee and homeschooled her preteen son. To this day, I have no idea how she found my phone number, or what motivated her to call me when she did … other than she had been given exactly what she claimed: a message to me from God.

Unlike most other phone calls, this one wasn’t much of a conversation between two people. Rather, she called to give me a message. She spoke. I listened. And to this day, what she had to say gives me the sort of chills that can only happen when God is involved.

Sheila told me:

Your parents named you Angela Paige.

The name Angela means “angel.”  We often think of angels as being winged creatures playing harps. Yet, in heaven angels are servants of God and have many purposes. One of those purposes is to deliverer of God’s messages. In scripture we read over and over about God sending angels to earth to bring forth messages to humans.

The name Paige is directly in reference to the job of a page, or a young servant to a king. Pages were just general errand boys, doing whatever the king might need. This job often included bringing messages to various parts of the castle or even other locations. 

You are named Angela Paige. You are a servant to the King of Kings. God has chosen you to be His mouthpiece. You will be used to deliver His message of love, peace, joy and encouragement.  

Ten minutes after the phone rang, I sat in complete silence, amazed God would reach down to me at the lowest point in my life and call me to speak for Him.

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Throughout the Scriptures, there are recorded instances of times when God renames people. He gave Abram and Sarai new names: Abraham and Sarah. A man name Jacob is renamed Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus began to call Simon by a new name, Peter. And after his conversion,  Saul’s name was changed to Paul.

I’ve known other Christ-followers, my husband included, who felt like the Lord gave them a special name, something significant on which they could mark God’s personal and intimate knowledge of who they were created to be.

But God didn’t give me a new name. Instead, He gave me the same name, along with a reason to love it.

To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. ~Revelation 2:17

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What’s the story behind your name? Do you love it or hate it? Has God ever given you a new name?

If you have ever received believing faith in Christ, then He has your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and that’s more important than any name we might go by here on this earth.