Image: Writing and Reading Tools Volume 14 Deborah Forteza
 

Jesus and J-Lo

By JesusisLord Nwadiuko

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Jesus and J-Lo. I’ve been called both and neither is my name. The name’s JesusisLord Nwadiuko. Don’t wear it out. However, realistically, a worn out name might be the least of my problems. Most people opt out of completely saying the first name. When it comes to finding a short version, my name has gone through numerous edits: J, Jil, JL, Jizl, J-ai, J-Lord, John Legend (how that counts as a shorter version of my name, I have no idea) and, of course, Jesus, and J-Lo.

Usually people are just trying to make their load lighter. “Wow, what a mouthful,” they say. “How about I call you something for short, like J or JL?” Unbeknownst to them, they just stripped all the meaning and impact of my name down to the 10th letter of the alphabet. Convenient.

When my family changed my name, we didn’t anticipate people shortening this declaration of faith to an average of three letters. But I get it. It took me four years to get used to my new name. Up till fifth grade, I had a very simple name: Jeremy. That year, however, my father approached me with an idea. He felt like God wanted us to change my name and asked me what I thought. What did I think? I thought he was joking… He wasn’t. “No!” I replied. I dreaded the idea, a sentence for a name? Can you even do that? My father left the room and I slumped to the floor. I was in despair. God, this isn’t fair! Why do you have to change my name? Why me? In the middle of crying though a thought occurred to me, “God, if this is you, than give me the strength to carry this name for two reasons: people will expect me to act like you and people will make fun of me because of the name.” It wasn’t a glowing transcendental experience: no lightening bolt, no house-rattling voice, no whirlwind and ascension into the heavens with a JesusisLord stamped on my chest and a cape on my back. No, there was just a slight change. I had said yes…sort of. Yes, to the journey at least.
Not surprisingly, God gave me strength. The surprising part was for what: having our request rejected by the courts 3 times was no joke. The first time, the court official thought that my father had a mystical dream and was forcing me to change my name. The other judges were just worried I would get beat up every time I went to class. I don’t remember explaining to my extended relatives that they had to call me JesusisLord. I’m sure I did. Some of them are still coming around. Informing my classmates that my name was going to be a sentence long went a little like this:

“I don’t think you can do that. It’s a sentence. Are there spaces?”

“No, no spaces.”

“Well, I’m not calling you that. It’s not your name. That’s blasphemous. Your not Jesus’ Lord!”

“No, it’s Jesus is Lord.”

One teacher proceeded to answer me as “Yes…you,” until he found a better substitute. Some would have deemed it, “a rough start.”

For the next 3½ years my name change was pending, but in my heart the case was closed. My name was JesusisLord. I agreed more and more with the name’s statement over the years, as my relationship with God grew closer. There was a motivation that grew inside of me the more that I talked to Jesus. I began to explore the man that I was representing. I didn’t know what he meant to me personally. My first major question was: when I talked to him, why didn’t he talk back. We all know relationships are supposed to be two-way streets. But then he made it a two-way: he began answering me in small ways, confirming he was real, proving that he loved me. I didn’t get all the answers. But I found fulfillment in him. He helped me to say, “yes” and figure the rest out later. It wasn’t very logical or convenient: then again, neither was having a sentence for a name. It was faith. Now, five years after the courts’ approval, I still carry that faith. Or, rather, it carries me. Sometimes, it is hard to tell the difference. Either way, the name stands as JesusisLord Nwadiuko.

But I guess I’ll let J-Lo and Jesus slide.