In these strange and difficult times, we all need a reminder of where our hope is found…come to the Well…
By Shirley “Kay” Fruchey
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 3: 11 -13
When I was young, I couldn’t stand my name!
Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a popular name in the 1930s was FAR from cool. I was often teased by other kids about my “old-fashioned” name.
When I was eleven and very insecure, the last thing that I wanted was to be associated by name with that curly-haired Shirley. The one who sang about “animal crackers” in her soup!
I wanted to change my name to something trendy like my friends had. Names like Lisa, Kim, Marsha, Jan, or Cindy. (I know…sounding very Brady Bunch here…but it was the show of the time!)
My family called me “Lou-Lee” because my baby brother couldn’t pronounce Shirley, but let’s face it, that nickname wasn’t cool either. And then there was also the story of HOW I got my name. My parents were expecting (hoping) I would be a boy. This was in the old days, way before Ultrasounds. My name was supposed to be William Joel.
Just imagine my parent’s surprise when I came screaming on the scene as a little girl. The joke was that being number five, they’d run out of name ideas, so they just named me after my mother (who was born in the late 1920s). They decided to finish things off by giving me the equally old-fashioned middle name of Kay and then, to make matters even worse, called me by BOTH names most of the time. Ugh! I felt like I walked right off the set of The Walton’s with John Boy, Mary Ellen, and Jim Bob!
I was discontented, to put it mildly, with my name most of my childhood. The trouble with discontentment is that it’s like a weed in the garden. If left to grow wild, it crowds out the other healthy flowers and plants until it takes over. It begins to demand the spotlight and can become an attitude of the heart and mind. It needs to be uprooted and tossed into the compost pile! But once it takes root, how do we extract it from the garden of our soul? In God’s Word, Philippians 4:11-13, our Heavenly Father reminds us that being content is something we “learn.” And the secret to being content in all things is found in our relationship with Christ.
In high school, my sophomore year, I received a gift from a friend and learned to be content with my old-fashioned name. My friend gave me a little card to carry in my wallet. These cards were made by a greeting card company, and they were called “The Name Card.” This was VERY trendy in 1978, and I was absolutely thrilled that they made one for my “ancient” name.
These little cards described the origin and meaning of a name. The picture on my Name Card was a field of gorgeous bright pink and yellow flowers against a robin’s egg blue sky. And the meaning of my name was written across the sky of my card. “From the Bright Meadow.” I felt my heart soar when I read that meaning. I LOVED nature and being outdoors. I LOVED gardening.
And then my friend said something very wise for a fifteen-year-old. “I know that you don’t like your name, but I think you need to change the way you look at it. Maybe your parents picked the perfect name for who you are!”
In that moment, sitting on the gymnasium’s benches, I began to learn contentment by looking at things a different way. I began to see that my beautiful name really did say a lot about who I was. That afternoon when I got home from school, I told my mother all about what had happened that day and showed her The Name Card, because of course, it was her name too. I still remember her smile when I finished my story. It filled my soul with joy.
When we realize that in all circumstances, no matter what they are “called,” whether in need or in plenty, hungry or well-fed, the SECRET to contentment is in knowing that we can do all things, survive all things, find joy in all thing, through the one who gives us strength.
See you at the well.
Shirley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org