being afraid of God's love
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, ....... For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
My full name is Oben-Achale Nathan Etta, however, from elementary, to middle school and even part of my high school years, I was embarrassed of my first name Oben-Achale, so I would switch my name to fit what was a "normal American" name and tell people my full names were Nathan Etta, totally omitting my first name. Often at restaurants such as Starbucks that ask for your name along with your order, I would ignore my real first name. When I was born, my parents each had first names that they wanted to give to me. Based on my parents' culture, my dad won and got to give me Oben-Achale as my first name, and Nathan, the name my mother wanted, became my middle name.
Unbeknownst to my parents, Oben-Achale Nathan Etta were not the only names that I was given. Many other of negative names have been offered to me over the years either because of my taste in music, my character traits, my choice of dressing or even because some find me to be a passionate Christian. I remember, when I moved from California to Texas at the age of 12, the students at my new school even took it upon themselves to define my sexuality themselves and label me gay. I became significantly more self-conscious after this, making sure to hide or switch the music I loved listening to whenever someone would walk past me in the halls. For a very long time, I refused to allow myself to be different from those around me, believing that validity from others is what defines one's worth. Also, growing up with amazing parents who are both hard working, strong in faith, smart, loving, kind, and both were in the top of their class in college kind of puts pressure on me to strive to be just like them and to be better than them when as I grow older. The pressure from home and school made me wish I was someone else. I would envy anyone and everyone. Trying to change myself to fit a "perfect" image. Fortunately, as the years have passed, I have been getting stronger in my Christian faith, and have come to realize that I will never be perfect and I am not defined by the names my peers call me.
Past insecurities concerning my first name and trying to be perfect sometimes still comes to my memory, but I am able to overcome it because I am no longer embarrassed by my name or who I am. Memories of past insecurities are a reminder of who I don't want to be. I was a person I didn't like. I hated being me because I didn't meet the insanely high standards I had set for myself. I would change myself, becoming a new person everyday, never showcasing who I was, not walking in the truth of who I was because I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was afraid of being judged, but now I am happy just being fully me, not compromising believes to be what the world sees me as, but what I want for myself.
In life, in order to be successful, change and growth are vital steps, so in light of administering change, I decided to feed my spirit with "the bread of life," which is the word of God. When I read Deuteronomy 31:6, which talks about how God's love gives us the strength to be carefree and fearless, a wave of comfort seemed to cover me instantly. As I've been changing, I have began to love who I am, no longer am I afraid to be myself.
To be afraid of who I am is to be afraid of God's love, and I was tired of being afraid so I decided to accept God's total and complete love. This revelation has helped me reach my full potential in every aspect of my life. For certain, there are still a few areas that I am slowly by surely becoming freer expressing, and some that I still haven't reached my full potential in, but everyday I am changing and becoming a person that I love. As I become the person God made me to be, not ashamed of who I am, but fully unapologetic about who he wants me to be, I take steps daily towards falling in love with Oben-Achale Nathan Etta.