A New Name

WORDS FROM W.W.                                             October 25, 2013

 

                                           

 

     Today my dad and I invited a great gentleman named Bill Ball out for lunch. Bill was one of my mentors growing up.  Always encouraging with a urging towards perseverance, Bill was a welcome smile to a high school boy of smaller stature. He also had three daughters, the middle daughter, Teresa, whom I thought the cat’s meow.

A week ago Bill’s wife of sixty-six years, Sue Ball, passed away after a sudden illness. Sue was a fine lady, charming and personal. She was one of those people you’ve save a seat for beside you in a restaurant because she was such a delight. When I was back for my mom’s funeral less than two months ago Sue and Bill came up to my parents’ house and we sat and talked for a solid hour about life, kids, and pursuits.

I was taken back at her passing, and then today Bill told me that her name wasn’t really Sue. My response: “Say what?”

The first day of class as both of them began their college careers at Rio Grande College in Rio Grande, Ohio, they met in the college library. Bill took a fancy to this young woman immediately. They started dating, and five years later they got married. But her name was Edna Pearl!

Bill, however, called her, Sue. I’m not sure why he called her Sue. She was always “Pearl” to her mom. Perhaps he didn’t think she looked like someone whose name was “Pearl.” Whatever the reason, “Sue” stuck! It stuck so much that when they moved to Ironton, Ohio fifty-something years ago everybody in town came to know her as “Sue”. Whenever Bill was around Sue’s mom he was wise enough to call her Pearl, but otherwise she was Sue.

It isn’t often that someone is so accepting of a new name. Our identity gets associated with who we’ve been, not who we will be, or even invited to be. I know who I have been. There’s a certainty to it. A new name takes a bit of faith in the not-yet.

I never knew Sue in her prior life of her original name. Most everybody in Ironton, Ohio didn’t know her birth certificate name either. So unknown was her “Edna Pearl days” that Bill had to put “Sue” into the obituary listing to make people aware of who it was that had passed.

I was amazed by the story as he shared it today. Scripture tells several stories of new names that God gave people. Usually the new name was bestowed at a “fork in the road” moment. Abram to Abraham…Saul to Paul…nomad to father of the faith…persecutor to proclaimer.

The thing is…the longer you wrap yourself in the new identity that Jesus gives you the more it seems that is who you have always been. At some point people see you more as a “Paul” and forgetting of “Saul.”

Whatever name we remember Edna Pearl Sue Ball by the Lord knows her by a newer new name…”Beloved!”

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Death, Faith, Jesus, love, marriage, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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