For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Calling It What It Is

Yesterday I stood before a judge, took an oath, made a petition, answered questions, and it became official. In less than two minutes, my name went from a hyphenated blend of two lives to an unhyphenated statement of self.

There was no audience. No round of applause. No major celebration.

Just the kids and I walking out of the courthouse with the paperwork in hand that acknowledged a major change in my life had occurred.

And it was major. In fact, I told my friend Scott, "This is epic for me."

So why did I feel so sad when I had been looking forward to this for a long time?

I knew it didn't feel like grief, but I wasn't really sure what it did feel like. Until early this morning when I couldn't sleep so I asked God what it was and took time to write it out in my journal.

I felt sad because I knew most people wouldn't understand how epic my name change is and certainly not why. I know people would this is my way of letting go of my late husband or letting go of a marriage that didn't work. Some folks even said as much, but that isn't it. I let go of that a few years ago. Really, I'm so over that.

I knew some people would think this is my way of showing my late husband I don't need him or his name and I can move on without him and...really, how utterly shallow is it to need to show a person in the past that I am moving to the future without them? Kind of a lie, isn't it? I mean, if I'm still that hung up on what happened in the past, I'm not really moving toward a future anyway. And how much more shallow and flat out pathetic to need to show a deceased person I can live without him. Seriously. That is some seriously messed up stuff there. No, that isn't it.

I didn't change my name because of what I'm leaving behind. This isn't about running from or escaping the past. It seems to me that folks who do something drastic to run from the past usually end up running right back into it anyway. Nope. That wasn't it.

I actually changed my name for simpler reasons than that. I changed my name back to my maiden name because of what I am moving into and toward.

My maiden name, Kelley, is Gaelic. It means "warrior." Frankly, this suits me. It suits my personality. In fact, it is perfectly defining of who I am.

If you ask my kids, they will tell you, I am momma bear to the core, and no one messes with my cubs, but it isn't just my cubs. It is anyone God puts into my care. I am fiercely protective of those who cannot protect themselves.

My volunteer work the last six years has focused on rebuilding lives of domestic violence victims, seeing warriors heal from trauma and PTS, teaching personal protection to people, and loving people and walking with them through hard places. I am what Lt Col Dave Grossman refers to as a "sheepdog". It isn't just what I do. It is who I am.

In six weeks I will return to college and get my degree in criminal justice to go along with the degree I already have in sociology. My goal is to became more equipped to be a more influential and more effective sheepdog. As my kids say it, I am taking my momma bear-ness and protecting a whole other group of "kids" God has ready for me.

Changing my name is a rite of passage, and rites of passage are not there so someone can escape what they used to be. A rite of passage is stepping into a new a thing. It is taking what a person has already become and moving them to the next thing. It is forward motion driven by expectation, anticipation, and hope. It is marked by a nervous confidence of knowing you are ready for a new identity because you can handle the weight of it.

A rite of passage is no small thing.

Kelley. Warrior.

I chose to return to that name because I want the weight of it. I want the weight of being a sheepdog. I want the weight of being a warrior. I want to wield the power that goes with this identity.

And it isn't because I'm proud or my ego needs stroking. It isn't because I need a title or a uniform. It's because I look around me and see "cubs" who desperately need a momma bear, and the very core of me prays simply, "Give them to me. I'll take care of them. I want them." That is who I am. It is that simple.

Yeah, changing my name has nothing to do with who I'm not anymore. It has everything to do with who I am, and who I am...well, the name speaks for itself.

Loving being me,

Jerri Kelley