What’s in a name?

June 20, 2018 - Faith development, Student discipleship, Year of Youth, Youth Ministry

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell so sweet” – William Shakespeare

Wherever you are right now, if you’re on the bus on your way home, on the couch smelling the delectable aromas of a nearly ready dinner, or watching the sun welcome the earth to another day, pause, stop, think.


What is truly in a name?

Olivia Sage Niethe. Peaceful Wise Zero.

If you were to know nothing about me except the definition the dictionary has for my name it would be that. Peaceful Wise Zero. Although I have my moments of peace, the rare spontaneous thoughts of wisdom, and zero, well I’m not entirely sure about that one, these are not three words I would commonly use to describe myself, yet this would be the limitation of my identity. Though me, you, us, we are far greater than the definition a dictionary has for our names, rather, we are children of the living God, every part of our being is created with a purpose, we shine so that through us others can see Him.

When I was younger, during primary school, I distinctly remember coming home one afternoon agitated, bitter and one may even say sullenly. When asked by my Mum what was wrong, I replied with the words “can we change my name?”. This was the aftermath result of someone telling me what a common name ‘Olivia’ was that day at school. My ten-year-old self-thought this equated to the world ending, I mean, I didn’t want to have a common name let alone share it with tens of thousands of other people in the world! Because in my mind, this meant that I was less unique, or less special, little did I know I was limiting my identity to one single word, ‘Olivia’.

Although this rebellious phase of wanting to change my name was short lived during the beginning of high school to many I became known by the nickname ‘Niethe’. In hindsight, this seems trivial, but at the time I loathed being called ‘Niethe’ as I thought it would associate me to expectations people held in regards to my siblings and their achievements, and that absolutely terrified me! So, here I was again, years later, falling for the same false understanding, that my identity was defined simply by a name.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine” – Isaiah 43:1

God knows the absolute depths of who we are, for He created us in His perfect image with innate dignity, that can neither rise or subside because we are already enough and we are never too much. When God calls ‘you by name’ He calls to every fibre of your being, your dreams, your pain, your hopes, He calls to the very centre of your heart and that is your name. Your name exceeds the limitation of the world’s use of language to allocate a definition to your body.

Olivia Sage Niethe has become my name through finding my identity as a child of God, leading to the journey of discovering the purpose of my heart and the beginning of the pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. Knowing who you are in Christ is essential to fulfilling your divine purpose. God created you with a unique identity. The more you understand who you were created to be, the more power you have over doubts that try to keep you from fulfilling your calling.

“Your heart will always pursue what you treasure” – Matthew 6:20

Later this term, the Proclaim Worship Band will be launching a competition, seeking the creativity, the expertise, and the inspiration of students in the pursuit of naming the band. I urge you to ponder the purpose of the band and to let the name be a mirroring of this, not define it, but capture its substance, allowing it to gleam as does water when the moon casts its dancing light across it.

“God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. You are as much alone with him as if you were the only being he had ever created” – CS Lewis

As I continue to grow so does my understanding of my personal calling. I know I am a child of God, loved by my heavenly Father. I know I amount to much more than the English definition of my name. But I also know there is still much of my heart to come to find and may always be as I grow throughout this journey of life. What I do hope is, when I find the things that fill me with joy, passion and the love of Christ, I have the courage through the grace of God to confront my dreams.

She does not know what God has planned but she does know His plan never fails.

IMG_0443After graduating from St John Paul College Coffs Harbour in 2017, Olivia took the bold leap to return as a Youth Ministry Officer (YMO) in 2018. Where she accidentally lit her jumper on fire during a liturgy on retreat. Olivia has an inability to clap in time… she seriously gets caught out all the time, but she loves to dance, she even committed to all three serious of Dance Academy. Her favourite animal is a bee, even though she is allergic and you’ll often catch her rolling her R’s in words that don’t actually contain R’s.