Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the soapbox at Pastor Tara's blog...

What's in a Name?


My friend Pastor Tara Sloan (excuse me, Pastor Tara Denson-Sloan) did a blog post today on her blog called "On the soap box with Pastor Deanna." It's really good, not because my name is a part of it, but because she's an excellent writer, and makes incredibly insightful points. She also happens to totally share my heart for so many things. We eat out of the same box of Cheerios. I always enjoy what she has to say and I thought maybe my friends who read my blog might be interested in reading this. So go here to read it.

One thing she talked about today was her name, and the hyphenation of it or lack thereof. By the way Tara, the "D"as my middle name that you always see on anything in writing stands for Doss (my maiden name) that I took as my middle name when we got married. My grandmother (most Godly woman I ever knew) did this herself. When she got married her maiden name became her middle name. She was Jura Ressler and when she married a Lewis she became Jura Ressler Lewis. (If my grandma did it, I assure you, God is alright with it.) I always admired her for so many things and when I got married, I always knew I would do the same, following her example. I had other reasons than that too as I'll soon explain. Anyway, I dropped my original middle name (Lynn) never to be used again, and immediately went with Doss when we got married, and so therefore Deanna Doss Shrodes is on my...


Checks


Social Security card


Debit Card


All my credit cards


My insurance card


On almost every single piece of free lance writing I've ever done.


In the book Chocolate for a Woman's Courage I'm listed as...you guessed it -- Deanna Doss Shrodes...


But do you know the one place my name is not that and never has been? My minister's identification card and certificates! Drives me crazy. Way back when I applied to become a minister, on the application I wrote very clearly my full name, expecting them to write it just like I did on the official documents. Well they did not. They dropped the Doss and kept the Lynn. I remember as clear as day going to the mailbox to get the mail and finding the large envelope with my minister's card and certificate (which is framed in my office) and being so excited it was there........then reading it and going, "uuughhhhhhhhhhh". Larry said, "what's wrong honey?" I hung my head and said, "nothing, they just got my name wrong." I should have called them up right then and there and asked to have it changed but I didn't want to go through the rigamarole of defending it. I didn't know if it was just a secretary's mis-judgment, clerical error, or a well thought out decision. In any case, I had a twinge of disappointment. I regret that now and don't know if I could change it this late in the game.


It's a joke between Larry and I...but when we get into an argument he'll call me Deanna Lynn, just to get under my skin. I usually walk out as soon as he says it and say "there's nobody here by that name..." and ignore what he's saying until he calls me by my proper name (just Deanna, dropping the Lynn) Of course if he keeps it up, I turn around and call him by his middle name (which he hates and I won't print it here out of respect to him) but suffice it to say, we have an understanding in good times of exactly what we want to be called, and why. I would think this is just a basic personal request.


Keeping my maiden name as my middle name makes it easier for people to find me who might have known me in times past and lost track. When I write a piece and it is published, anyone who has ever known me for 40 years knows it's me, not a Deanna someone else. There's no doubt, it's Deanna Doss who grew up on their street, or who they went to high school with, or sang in the choir with in school. It's the same reason I've had the same exact screen name the entire time I have been on the internet. I don't want to change names - somebody might not be able to find me that I want to hear from! (And if I don't want to hear from them, I just press delete, ha ha!) Besides, it's just part of my heritage! Part of who I am. I grew up a Doss, but I am now Larry's wife and we have a family together. Why can't my name reflect both? The answer is, it can. Incidentally nobody really calls me that verbally nor do I refer to myself as that when I talk (although there would be nothing wrong with it if I did), I have just chosen to have my official name as that in anything I write. Make no mistake, I'm very happy to be Larry Shrodes wife, and I'm very happy to be Deanna Shrodes. But I'm also happy to be Deanna Doss Shrodes, because when I married Larry it was just that, a marriage, not a baptism. You know, when you get baptized you go down in the water and you are a new creation...the old is gone...the new has come. You don't ever refer to that "old life" again. Well, on June 27, I was married, not baptized. Yes, I walked down the aisle and started a whole new chapter in life but that didn't mean the previous chapters in the book had to be thrown out and never referred to again! It's still okay to refer to prior chapters now and then if you want to, because they are a part of who you are too, the totality of your life.


My doctor, Rosemay Latortue, (Watson) chose to retain her maiden name and she and her husband have a medical practice together. Unlike me, she actually goes by her maiden name at all times although she's definitely Patrick Watson's wife! Nobody ever questions her about it or thinks it's wrong or weird. Well, quite truthfully I guess most people wouldn't have the nerve to say it to her...she'd give it right back to them. But, she's married to Dr. Watson and they are a fine Christian couple who reach many people around the world for Christ through their missions trips in addition to being in medical practice. To anybody who has a problem with that, I along with you Tara, say, "please come into 2007"! A couple in our church was getting married and the girl said to the guy one night (as a joke, not really meaning it) that she was going to hyphenate her name or make it her middle name when they got married. He got real upset and angry, thought she was serious and said, "don't do that, that would be a slap in the face to me!" He told her he'd refuse to marry her. I knew right then and there the girl was headed for trouble. If he was that insecure, thought that was a slap in the face and would even break off the engagement over it, what other problems did the brother have? I guess now she's finding out, unfortunately as they have now said their "I do's".


Please, don't apologize for who you are, and please, don't let uptight people in your environment convince you to drop anything including part of your name to make them more comfortable. Doing as we do is not for every woman, certainly not, and you are right that with teaching and writing, and having your own business it does make a huge difference in the equation. Most of the time, as you mention, you face issues from women who don't agree with your choice to do this. I am convinced those are the ones who don't really live in the leadership world you live in or walk in the calling you have, and will never comprehend it. And that's okay, they don't have to comprehend it, they just need to leave you alone and let you live out your decisions in peace.


Deep down inside, they probably wish they had 1/4 of the confidence, accomplishments and courage that you do. I'm convinced, when some women make remarks about women like us, inside them there is a root of anger or resentment that they don't feel free to do as they would like to, or courageous enough to make this kind of choice. Because they lived without choices, or simply didn't take advantage of choices that were theirs, they think it's only right that you live the same way you do.


I was going to just post all this privately to Pastor Tara's blog and make my comments personal, however upon thinking about it, I believe every woman needs to hear this. No, not that you need to keep your name. But that it's okay to have choices. It's okay to choose differently than others. It's okay to be yourself even if that "yourself" doesn't look like other married women, especially in your church or in your ministry. It's about not being afraid to do what you feel God leading you to do, or that which you feel comfortable with when He leaves it up to you to make the choice. Isn't it so interesting that it's usually not our husbands who grappled with these issues, but others in our lives? That's another thing I've found - people don't know what to do when you have this kind of husband...it just leaves them dumbfounded to say anything.


If you haven't read Robin McGraw's book, Inside My Heart, read it. I enjoyed it so much. A lot of it is just her life stories and a hodge podge of all kinds of stuff she experienced throughout the years. But the main thing I got from it was Robin's admonition to be yourself, take good care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually and not be afraid to stand up for yourself when you need to. To me, the theme of the book was, "to thine own self be true". She's not completely lost in the shuffle of being Dr. Phil's wife. She knows who she is. She is the wife of a very strong and famous leader, yet she is not so enveloped and submerged in that to the degree that who she is never comes to the surface. She's Robin, and she's got a mind of her own. And quite frankly in some areas she's even as well known or more so than Dr. Phil is now!


We live in such fear sometimes of just relaxing with who we are. It's time we stop apologizing for living our God-given destinies.


Tara, I don't care if you want to call yourself Tara Bara Bo Barah Banana Fanna Fo Ferra Fee fi Fo Fana!!! People should flow with whatever you ask. How many guys do you know who have names like Horace Egbert Beauregard Jr. and then end up calling themselves "Jr." or "H.B."? Nobody's got a problem with that. I know guys whose names don't even have anything to do with one another. My brother is Charlie and everyone calls him "Bubba." My father is Robert but he hates that name so everyone calls him Leon. Most people have no idea my father's name even IS Robert! Our best friend Pastor Randy's name is really William! Most people have no idea his name is William nor does he want them to. He won't know I told anybody because he hardly knows how to turn a computer on let alone blog, so this is my secret with the rest of the people on the web!!! So keep your Denson, girl! At the very least you're givin' those people in Chicago somethin' to talk about, and a great somethin' at that!


What's in a name? Whatever you want there to be.

p.s. Tara, since you are getting absolutely sick to death of people in the church and minister's meetings dropping the Tara, the Denson, and the Sloan and hereafter referring to you only as "Pastor Craig's wife" I have an idea. At your next church fellowship, have Craig wear a name tag that says, "Pastor Tara's husband." :-) Hey, remember when those men did that at the conference? Was that awesome or WHAT? Good memories... in fact I think I'm craving a Ruby Tuesday's salad right now. I miss ya!
p.s.s. Just to be sure she's getting the message, I asked Savanna today, "Savanna, what can girls be when they grow up?" She thought for a minute and said, "Anything but a boy...or God!" YES!!! (And let's not confuse the two - some boys need to remember, they are not God. ha ha!)

6 comments:

Tara Sloan said...

Deanna,
You are SO da bomb! I mean it! Thanks for always giving me a leg up when I need it!!!

I really can't wait to see you at Unstoppable!

A Hoosier Family said...

If I had one (Perhaps I should create one) I'd give you and Pastor Tara a "You Go Girl!" Award. From a fellow hyphenated maiden-married surname! P.S. What do you do when 90% of the church calls and refers to the Pastor by his first name? That drives me crazy. When they talk I'll correct them and say "Pastor Tim" but it never fails, he's just "Tim". Any thoughts?

Pastor Deanna said...

You are welcome PT - anytime. You've done the same for me many times.

Sharon,I agree, it drives me crazy too or should I say it used to. It's not that I agree with it now, make no mistake. But I realized I was going to be mad all the time if I didn't work through the issue and come to terms with it. People continue to do it and you cannot force them. Yes it is very disrespectful, but for my own mental health I had to let it go. I always continue to refer to both of us as pastor in any conversation or writing - to set the example and hope people "catch it". Especially when in the pulpit, even when I myself am talking to Larry, say in an announcement or when I'm leaving the pulpit and he's coming in and I say something like, "Pastor's coming now to bring us the Word" or something like that, I always set that example but you know not everyone follows it. Thankfully it's never been 90% with us, it is a smaller percentage but there are those people who always do it.

I have to be honest, I am usually not "drawn" to those people because of that, and I know that sounds bad perhaps, but the thing is, when you do not sense that respect is there, it makes you uncomfortable to take the relationship any further. So really, they are harming their relationship w/their pastor or hindering it by doing so. I guess some might not care about that, but I think some would if they knew...I'm sure some wonder, "why aren't you closer to me?"

Pastor L said...

Love this blog!! My husband and I were one of those couples who had a long, drawn-out conversation about whether I'd take his last name or keep my own. In the end, we agreed (together!) that I'd take his, not because he is a big, bullying patriarch, but because at the time, he was the last male in his family, and he didn't want the family name to end with him. I never even thought of the option of keeping my maiden name as my middle name - oh, well - 9 years after the fact, I'm not going to worry about it, lol!!!

Pastor Deanna said...

That's exactly the point PastorL - you had a choice and you made it. "Pro-choice" (the right kind of pro choice!) is the issue here. You made the right one for you. What makes me mad is when people try to deny us those choices or make us feel as if we are unspiritual for taking advantage of them.

Pastor L said...

Seriously...I know a lot of women who just plain don't want the hassle of changing their checking account...driver's license...credit cards...and everything else just because they get married. It's definitely not a "spiritual" issue either way!