Hello, my name is…
For many years, I had a very specific answer for this question. “My name is Woogy…my real name is Aaron, but everyone calls me Woogy”.
Woogy is a nickname that was given to me when I was in College (no, it’s not from the movie ‘Something about Mary’). It comes from my last name, Wolgamott…it’s hard to pronounce, so my freshman year of college the soccer team started calling me Woogy. In High School some people called me Wolgy for the same reason.
Woogy started with the soccer team, but quickly grew beyond that group. I attended a small Bible College, and eventually everyone there called me Woogy. Even my professors called me Woogy. It became what I was known by.
After I graduated and moved on from college into my career and having a family, my name continued to be Woogy. Even at the churches I worked at, I was known as Pastor Woogy. Woogy was how I was known and recognized and referred to by pretty much everyone in my life…except my parents and like 5 other people.
The problem is, Woogy became more than a name…it became a persona. I’m sure that was not the intent of those who initially gave me the nickname, or of those who called me by that name. After all, it was how I introduced myself and the name everyone used for me, so it was just the default go-to for my name.
3 years ago, when my life was turned upside down and inside out, for the first time in many years, I wasn’t sure of who I was anymore. I lost my confidence, which is common when you experience major rejection in multiple areas of life at the same time like I did. But even worse than that, I lost myself. Or at least, who I believed I was. The persona that had been created as part of the Woogy name.
In the weeks and months that followed, as I started to figure out how to live my life in this new way, something began to happen. There were a handful of people who started to call me Aaron instead of Woogy. I don’t remember who did it first, but after several months I began to notice the change. I was being called Aaron more and more. Many still called me Woogy too, because that was how they knew me. But Aaron was gaining ground.
Earlier this year, I was having a pretty candid and serious conversation with my girlfriend, and she asked me a very serious question…a question that challenged me to my very core.
“Why do you call yourself Woogy?”
My answer was simple at first. “Because that is what everyone calls me”.
She didn’t accept that answer though. She pressed in again, saying “I know people gave you that as a nickname. But why did you start to call yourself that? Your name is Aaron, not Woogy. So why do you call yourself Woogy?”
After thinking about it for a while, I had to admit that I called myself Woogy rather than Aaron because it had become more than a name to me…it had become a persona. The name Woogy had a certain stigma and set of expectations that went with it, and those became how I was defining who I was. So I called myself Woogy because I felt as though I had to live up to the name Woogy.
Shortly after that conversation, she sent me the picture below in a text, saying to me “Your parents named you Aaron…God gave you to your parents and they named you this name for a reason. This is who you are.”
For the past several months, I have been meeting with a man who is counseling me…actually more like mentoring me…as I continue to seek to heal and grow and recover in my life. God has been using him to teach me many things. And the biggest one is the fact that I am loved and valued for who I am…it’s not dependent on what I do.
As this truth has been discussed and reiterated and examined and processed in my life, I have begun to realize why the name and persona of Woogy had become so engrained within me. I felt and believed that I was only as good as what I did or accomplished. That I had to always succeed, never being satisfied with what I had just accomplished but always looking to what was next; I had to be the funny goofy crazy one, or the one who was delivering incredible messages, or giving great advice, or the one ministering to others; I had to be the one who was doing everything right so I could hold things together, as if everything depended solely on me; I always had to be “on”. And if I wasn’t doing all of that, I wasn’t good enough or loved or valued.
Over the past year, through both my girlfriend and the man who has been mentoring me, as well as through his Word and honestly some powerful moments when he spoke into my heart directly, God has been freeing me from this way of living; from believing I have to live up to any kind of a persona, or that I am only valuable and good enough based on what I do. It hasn’t always been easy to learn…it requires a lot of undoing in my heart and mind, as well as in my actions…but the freedom that I have experienced as a result of it has been INCREDIBLE!
Now, when people ask me my name, I have a new answer. “Hello, my name is Aaron.”
I am the same me, but now I simply feel the freedom to be me. I don’t have to do anything to make others…or God…love me and accept me. I know God loves me just as I am, and I know that my true friends will love me just as I am, even when I make a mistake or have an “off” day. No persona to live up to anymore. I can just be me.
Hello, my name is Aaron
I know this is not something only I have experienced…it’s common to feel as though we have to put on a certain front to either hide something or gain acceptance by someone. I lived that way for many years…so I get it.
But I want you to know that you don’t have to live that way. God loves and accepts you for you, mistakes and all. He shows you grace and love, even when you don’t feel you deserve it. That’s the gospel message!
Psalm 139:14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s as we are…we don’t have to do a certain amount of good things or look a certain way or be under a certain weight or put on a good enough mask to live up to being fearfully and wonderfully made. God created us, and as he created us, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Not only that, but he sees our value to such a degree that he willingly sent his son Jesus to die for our sins, taking the punishment for us, so that we can have a relationship with God and be seen as righteous in God’s eyes.
None of that is based on anything you do…it’s all based solely on who you are and God’s love for you. When that truth begins to sink in and take over how you choose to see yourself and live your life, the freedom it provides is almost overwhelming at times! Galatians 5:1 tells us that Christ has set us free. Let’s live in that freedom to the fullest extent we can!