I was seven when I found out my name means, “grace.”
I can’t tell you how hard it was to find my name amongst the bookmarks, key chains, or any of those normal trinkets spelling out names, and doling out descriptions of them. My name wasn’t ever included – it was too different, too odd.
I distinctly remember the pink squared bookmark that spelled it correctly A-H-N-A. Watercolor flowers outlined the background, and as I turned it over my spirit sank as I read, “God’s Grace” across the back with a scripture.
I wanted it to say something fierce, something completely different and strong. I wanted my name’s meaning to be as bold as I felt – to be an accurate representation of my personality. To be able to sum me up entirely in a few words. But no, it was grace.
And I thought “grace” was boring.
Growing up I joked my name meant grace, because I didn’t have any. When I’m not in a hurry I walk like a coltish child swaying, meandering, and tripping often. I get lost in the world around me, and the path I am to take. I forget to put one foot in front of another.
I even took gymnastics for a few years, as my mother and I hoped the connection between mind and feet would connect. But, they never did. As an adult I dance, yet my feet and legs still have a mind of their own.
The significance of my name didn’t come until many years later when I was visiting with my mother’s best friend, Libby. She came to visit my mother for a mini-vacation, and I went to visit her.
Talking about my recent travels to Central America, and the close encounters with danger I lived through – she suddenly turned her head towards me, pointed her full wine glass in my direction and said, “You have been given a lot of grace in your life.”
And that was it. In that moment I saw an instant summation of my life – the small things I’d done, the huge decisions made, the fallen failures, and the epic victories. And I knew she was completely right. God has always given me an enormous amount of grace – regardless of what I have gotten myself into or fallen on top of.
Grace. It sounds so simple until you really think about its full meaning. Grace when I didn’t deserve it. Grace when I didn’t want it. Grace to be obnoxious, rude and still loved. Grace to be human and full of error, yet still forgiven. Grace.
My birthdays are very significant to me. It’s my very own New Year, my time to recount the past year of my life, and begin dreaming for the coming year. The time leading up to my birthdays are full of heavy contemplation, and always the most emotional time of the year for me.
I look at old pictures, I think about old friends, I waste time reading over old journal entries and generally just absorbing myself in the life I have led since my last birthday. It can be a heavy time for me, and it’s easy to get caught up in my head and forget about what is occurring in the day-to-day.
But this year is a little different. This year I am really proud of myself. This year I am full of the hard work I have put in, and the possibilities forming in my life. I have never been so full of hope, never been so full of life, and humanity. My future plans are still uncertain, but I become more aware every day of what I must do to be happy – to live life to the fullest.
I am thankful for the incredible people in my life – my family and friends. I am surrounded by amazing individuals, and their beauty inspires me everyday to try harder, and keep going. I am thankful for my education, for the opportunities my education provides me and the paths it has opened and is opening. I am thankful for my health – even though I am far from perfect I can run, and play with my dog – who I am also very thankful for.
And what strikes me most about where I am, who I am surrounded by, and what I am doing – is the immeasurable amount of grace it took to get me to this place. I have a thousand lessons to learn, and a million miracles to see, but I do not want to ever forget or be ungrateful for the Grace in my life.
Thank you Father!