Ever since I was itty bitty, people have offered their thoughts on my name.
“Elsa? Like the lion in Born Free? You little lioness, you.”
“Your name is Elsa? Did your parents name you after Elsie the Cow?”
Yes. Underneath their kind exteriors, they were cruel, cruel people.
“Elsa? Wow, you’re so young. I pictured an ‘Elsa’ to be like, 90 years old.”
I’m 92. It’s called Oil of Olay.
My maiden name also caused a whole set of issues: Kok. Some elementary and middle school kids were painfully creative with that one.
Then God introduced me to the man of my dreams. I love the family behind the name, but God could have made it easy and birthed the whole slew of them with the last name of “Smith” or “Jones” or plain ol’ “Black.” But no, the love of my life bears the name “Colopy.” At a speaking engagement one time, a gentleman who was about to introduce me said, “I know! I have a great way to remember your name. It’s like ‘colonoscopy,’ only shorter.”
To add to the confusion, I now use all three names. Since I’m crazy about my man, proud of the folks who gave birth to me and I have stuff written under my maiden and married name, I decided to keep it all in one big long confusing mess: Elsa Kok Colopy.
I might as well be talking Swahili.
It’s even harder these days. Now that I’m in the midst of book writing and marketing, I think of my name even more. It’s not an easy name to remember, like Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore. Nor is it super catchy and cool like JK Rowling or Agatha Christie.
I’ve been told that names matter. If I want to know true success, I need to be a household name…. right?
I decided to sift through some of the famous names littered in my brain: Madonna, Obama, Simon Cowell, George Bush, Lady GaGa, Lindsey Lohan, Tim Tebow (Uh, yeah. No evaluating my mental stability based on that list). The reality is that it’s easy to come up with a long list of names covering singers, politicians, movie stars and sports champions.
Some of those people I like, others I just know. But here’s the kicker: knowing their name doesn’t change me. I’m not a smidge different as a result.
Other names come to mind too, but these names have warm fuzzies attached: Kitty, Piet, Carol, Enno, Rob, Laura, John, Wendy, Esther, Jennifer, Donna, Sandy, Jeff, Gretchen… these are the names of people who changed me, who loved me when I was little, loved me when I was broken, loved me through pain and hardship and stupidity.
Their names may not be plastered all over CNN or Time Magazine, but they’re engraved deeply in my heart.
So I ask the question of myself—as a writer and speaker who has recently been consumed with the marketing of my new book, and my excruciatingly long name—how do I want to be known? By my name in lights? A million hits on YouTube? Via Twitter or Facebook or the Best Seller’s list?
Or do I want my name engraved on someone’s heart?
Not that they’re mutually exclusive. Yes, I’ll tweet and Facebook and do my best to honor God with hard work regarding my book—but I continue to pray that my motivation will rest solely in loving people deeply through all that I do – in the way I have been loved.
It all makes me rather thankful for a name that’s hard to remember. If people forget my name or mangle it into a nasty medical procedure, it’s all good. As long as my speaking, writing or living leave an impression that points them to Jesus—and they engrave his name on their hearts.
Yup, that’s it. That’s good enough for me.