When I was a kid, I loved personalized things. Remember those mini license plates with names on them? Man, did I want one of those. Or a set of painted barrettes. Or a mug or keychain, or...anything, really, as long as it had MY name on it. I shopped the rotating display cases hard, but being named Taylor in the 1980s did not help much when it came to cheesy kiosk merchandise.
I remember when I found a wallet-sized card with my name and its meaning printed in swooping calligraphy.
It was tucked among the names of my friends: Sarah (princess), Katy (pure) and Amanda (worthy of love). The thrill of seeing my name was quickly diminished by the word next to it: Tailor. Seemed a bit like "Why bother?" to me. I wanted more from my name than an occupation possibility; I wanted my name to tell me who I was.
You, know, something along the lines of Pure Princess Worthy To Be Loved.
Did you ever hear the story of "The Brave Little Tailor"? It was one collected by the Grimm brothers, I believe, but like so many old stories, it was a Mouse that popularized it.
The gist of the tale is that Mickey, a poor tailor, boasts about killing 7 flies with a single blow-- but his bravado is misunderstood, and he soon finds himself on a quest to defeat a giant.
I haven't stopped collecting identities. I have quite a few monikers these days, from my roles as a wife, mother and daughter, to Jesus-follower. My education and former job titles have added descriptions as well, as do my love for crafting words and creating art.
There are other names scrawled upon my life as well, angry and painful ones, discolored by age. You know the kind. Names taunted by playground bullies and middle school mean girls. Crushing words from adolescent crushes.
They all press into the one name carved so deep and sharp, from tracing over and again: Not Enough.
The name I answer to most these days is Mama. Four voices in the chorus now, and I confess it is hard to hear much else.
But sometimes, as I parent my little tribe, my own Mama voice breaks through to the child inside me. It reaches down deep into to the place where she still clutches that little name card, wondering, "Who am I? Am I enough?"
"Look at me, little one.
Take a deep breath.
Yes, you are having Big Feelings.
I cannot hear you when you sit silent and stiff, chin tucked and arms crossed.
Tell me what happened, Little one.
I need you to use your words."
The funny thing about "The Brave Little Tailor"--at least the Disney version-- is that the tailor really isn't so brave. Mickey never transforms into a knight with a sword and a hero complex.
In fact, he's kind of ridiculous. After marching off to meet the giant, Mickey tries his best to both hide and flee from his foe. Finally, Mickey defeats the giant by using what he has: a needle and thread. Mickey deftly sews him up, winding the thread around the giant's meaty limbs until..."Timber!" down he goes.
As I struggle to know the woman I'm becoming, to follow the call on my life, I sometimes resemble of my kids when they are gearing up for a grand hissy fit.
I look away from the One who loves me best. I listen to the names written on old cards, and let long faded voices tell me who I am. I stuff my Big Feelings down, tamping them like gunpowder or stacking them up, bricks in a wall to hide behind.
Deep breath, little one.
I want to listen. To speak the story that rings in my ears.
I want to use my words.
Because maybe courage doesn't mean becoming the person you think you should be.
It's being brave (and ridiculous) enough to stop hiding, and use what you have.
I am a Brave Little Taylor, and I'm using my words.