Who are you?

Hi, I’m Gerry. What’s your name?
I’m serious. I’d like to know your name. But do you know what else I’d like to know? I’d like to know how you got your name.

 

When people hear me say that I’m Gerry Lewis, they can’t hear the “G” at the beginning. So I often get comments about Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin or Jerry Lee Lewis. Of course, a person has to be a certain age (we won’t say what age because you know who you are) to recognize those.
But those who have achieved such a longevity milestone (that’s a nice way to say that) sometime assume that my parents were fans of one of these famous people and that’s where my name came from.
Actually, I was named after my parents. My birth name is Thomas Gerald and I was named after my father, whose birth name is Thomas Jefferson, and my mother, whose birth name is Geralene. Gerald got shortened to Gerry.
Thomas is a family name. My father is Thomas Jefferson. My grandfather was Thomas Alcon. My son is Thomas Ezekiel. My grandson is Thomas Owen.
So, now you know how I got my name. But do you know what else I’d like to know besides how you got your name? I’d like to know what your name means to you.
My name obviously means family. Being named after both my parents is a strong connection. Having a generational name (there were several previous generations of Thomas that I did not mention), also means legacy to me. When I think family, I think legacy. I think of living into the hopes and dreams that previous generations had and bringing the best of that forward into my life in such a way that passes it on to future generations.
I did some studying recently on the origin and meaning of my names (not just how I got them). I discovered that Thomas means “twin.” Gerald means “rules with a spear.” Lewis means “famed warrior.”
Dude! I’m set up for greatness! I should be large and in charge!
But that’s not what it means to me.
When I see “twin,” I am reminded that I am no more special than anyone else. I don’t deserve more blessings or favor than anyone else. When I look at another person, I want to see him as someone who is just as valuable as I am. I want to see her as someone who, like me, is created in the image of God. I want to see him as someone who, like me, is a person for whom Jesus died.
When I see “rules with a spear,” I don’t see authority or privilege; I see responsibility. I see a call to live wisely and use my influence for good. I want to value people over things. I want to live into my calling as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God.
When I see “famed warrior” I don’t see myself as an aggressor who kicks butt and takes names, but one who defends and champions an amazing legacy and an even more amazing destiny, and not just for me, but for others. I want everyone to know how much our lives matter to God.
You may not have noticed, but within this post I shifted from telling you my name to telling you part of who I am. Who I am is who I choose to be.
Now, what does your name mean to you? I’d love to hear from you.

Azle resident Dr. Gerry Lewis is director of missions for the Harvest Baptist Association, which is headquartered in Decatur. He writes a blog at www.drgerrylewis.com.