I am often asked, “What do you like to be called, as I see that you sign your name both as Lisa and Elisa?” Definitely, I prefer to be called Lisa.
On a practical level, Lisa is just easier for people to say and remember, and I especially appreciate when people call me by name. However, the real reason I prefer Lisa is that it is a “stone of remembrance” for a work the Lord has done on my heart and in my life.
At a key moment in my faith journey, I reached a point of total frustration over the legacy of abuse my family has battled for three generations. I poured out my heart to God and begged him for a new beginning and especially a new way of reacting to life’s ups and downs.
While I had been a Christian for more than a decade at that point, I didn’t see the fruit of all my effort translate into real change in my behavior. I attended plenty of Bible studies, devoted myself to ministry, read Scriptures daily, and prayed time and time again, and yet the change I thought I should experience was never becoming a reality. There was this well of anger that kept rising up in me, instead of dissipating.
One morning, in total desperation, I quieted my soul long enough to listen to the Lord. In a state of total brokenness, I felt God saying to me,
“Take off this cloak of anger and put on my cloak of righteousness.”
According to the New Testament Scriptures, we become a new creation in Christ when we have put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV). And yet, while I was a new creation as a result of my salvation, I’d been living like the old woman.
As I continued in seeking God about the meaning of this Biblical truth, He gave me a visual picture to see how it was playing out in my life. I could see myself walking around in a matted down, dirty, smelly fur coat. It was as though I believed the coat was valuable, simply because it was what I had always worn. Taking it off would make me feel naked, and that was scary. But keeping it on was forcing me to live under the weight and stench of it, and that was a burden I wasn’t meant to carry any longer. It was time to take off the coat. It was time to step out of the past. It was time to let go of the familiar, self-protecting anger.
It was time to become a new woman, on the inside and out.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
My anger most certainly defined my life. It was my source of protection for too many years. It was part of me and used by me, and yet it didn’t glorify God or bring any fruit to bear in my life.
It was time to live as a new creation, defined by my faith in the Lord and His power made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I asked God how to move forward and remember these truths daily so that I could live them out and not default into my old habits. As I sat and prayed, I thought about others from Scripture who had an encounter with God and walked away changed. I thought of how God changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17) and Saul to Paul (Acts 13:9). In that moment, I believed that the Lord was inviting me to live out my new life in Him, with Lisa is as a precious reminder of His work. Simply by being called Lisa, I could have that daily reminder to live as a new creation.
Yes, I believe names are significant to God, and I know that through my parents He gave me the name Elisa. I am most certainly grateful for that gift, and even more so for His faithfulness in transforming my life from the angry, dysfunctional, broken woman I once was to the one who is becoming more whole, more healthy, and more filled with His spirit every single day.
If you’d like to learn more about the process of life transformation I’ve been through, take a look at Meet the New You.