Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mint Flower

Mint Flower

I love my middle name.

Middle names are kind of like a hidden part of you. There’s your first name, your identity, the name you hear everyday. There’s your last name so everyone knows who you belong with. But you can go a long time and not know someone’s middle name, and when you do, it can add to the character of that person in your mind. It can even tell part of their story.

My middle name is unique. It never fails to draw a comment from clerks who look at my driver’s license at the video store or bank. New friends tend to think it’s really cool—or interesting- when they find out. In a world of girls with the middle names Lynn and Marie, I think I may just be the only one with my name.

I didn’t always love my name. Once upon a time I didn’t even like it. But now I love it. I love that it’s mine.

Alyssa Mint Flower.

Mint is pretty. It’s both refreshing and healing. It’s very fragrant, and yes, it has a story.

My mom named me Alyssa. She made it up and I was eighteen before I met another Alyssa.(of course, now it’s gotten popular for younger girls) My dad named me Mint Flower because when I was born I was tiny and sweet like all the little purple mint flowers blooming all around our house. That makes my names so special to me now. It’s the love behind the first gift my parents gave me.

Another reason it’s meaningful to me is because for so long I wanted to have a different name, something more common and easier to spell. Something more “like everyone else”. People always mispronounced Alyssa anyway, and when we moved from our valley of “flower children” to a conservative little town- well, Mint Flower was just embarrassing. My mom graciously let me register for school under the middle name “Mary”. So I went by that for several years if anyone asked. I did have a kindred spirit in my friend Amanda, who’s middle name was Maize (she told the girls it was May) I wanted a name like everyone else, to wear what they wore, to eat what they ate (that’s a whole other story!) I wish I could have appreciated my name, myself, my family and my differences at that young age.

So I moved from our cabin in the woods to prairies, deserts and rocky mountains where mint didn’t grow wild. I remember one summer driving through the mint fields of Oregon and my dad pulled the car over and picked me a bouquet for my birthday. I didn’t know that years later, I would end up living here with my own family, with my own mint blooming outside my door, and my daughter picking it to dry for tea each summer. That I would walk by the river and smell it and search for a purple flower to take in my pocket, a little reminder of being loved.

God says he knew me before I was born, He knows my name, and it’s written in His book and engraved on His hands.
Time went by and at some point in my growing up and becoming me, I realized that I really do love my name, because it’s part of who I am and it was given to me in love, by parents who saw my preciousness and uniqueness and wanted my life to be blessed. I pray as I keep “growing in grace” I will be a fragrant offering to the One who calls me by name.