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“Don’t Call Me Mara; Call Me Naomi!” – 2/26/09

By October 13, 2018
Hi everyone! I know that some people are still curious about my name change and have not yet heard the whole story. I thought I would put it here for you all to see.

It occurred during Easter break of 2006. I spent that Easter break with a group of friends from GCC [Grove City College]; we traveled to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO to spend the week praying and drawing closer to God. We spent our days at IHOP (International House of Prayer- not pancakes 🙂 and our evenings with the wonderful couple we were staying with. Every night at their house we would worship God and pray specifically for some of the people in our group. God did amazing things in all of us while we there.

Even a couple months before the trip, though, I had already prayed for God to give me a new name. I had been through some traumatizing experiences, and after a period of time during which God did some amazing healing in me, the name Mara had really started to bother me.

It had never bothered me before- I had always loved having a unique name. But Mara means bitter; I had known that most of my life. After my experiences, though, it began to really mean “bitter” to me every time I heard it, and I thought, “I am not bitter anymore.” I did not like being called something I was not, and when I heard Mara I was only reminded of what I once was and what I had once experienced. That bitter part of my life was over, and I disliked being called Mara so much that I asked God to give me a new name. I had no clue how or if He would, but I told Him that I would not pick out a new name for myself or let anyone else. I wanted Him to name me, and if He did not do it, no one else would…I would just have to live with the name Mara for the rest of my life.

Thank God that He heard me!

One evening during the trip, everyone prayed and waited on God for me. After a time of waiting and listening to Holy Spirit, a friend of mine read part of Isaiah 62 to me: “you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah [my delight is in her], and your land Beulah [married]; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married…They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”

Then a minister who I had just met on that trip told me that God was changing my name. He took me to the book of Ruth where Naomi, who had lost everything and everyone dear to her except Ruth, said, “Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Then he told me that I was to say “Do not call me Mara. Call me Naomi.” Naomi is the complete opposite of Mara- it means “pleasant/delightful”.

Amazing! I had not told anyone that I had asked God to give me a new name, and here He was using a minister I had not even met before that trip to tell me that He was giving me the name Naomi! I was and still am absolutely blown away by His love and care and just how real and involved He really is. Wow- that He would really answer me and name me Himself! I probably should not have been so overwhelmed as I was- He did, after all, die for my sins and a made a way for me to be with Him forever. There is no greater expression of love than that, but such a personal answer to my personal request absolutely flooded me with an awareness of His love and presence. The name Naomi is such a precious gift to me, and in it is also a promise/reminder to me of what God has for me and who He has made me to be.