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by Pastor Curtis J. Johnson, Jr. M.Div.
Not For Sale
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One’s name holds the power to shape the personalities of an individual as nothing else can. Names also lay the ground work for others impressions as to who a person is or is not.

In Matthew chapter sixteen Jesus recognizing the power of ones name changes the name of Simon an indecisive, unfocused fisherman, whose name literally gave reference to (shifting sand) to Peter (stone, rock) giving reference to fortitude and solidity.

The Apostle Peter went on to become one of the most outspoken advocates of Christianity, preaching an astounding message on Pentecost, which lead to the conversions of more than four thousand men and women.

With illustrations like this throughout scripture, why on earth would any parent give a child the nickname “Turtle”, I mean what were they thinking? “Honey, this boy of ours is going to grow up to be lighting fast and will excel in everything that he does because he will not want to be seen as slow!” Well if you were to ask me this was a sparkling failure for the practice of reverse psychology.

Looking back on this part of my life still has me asking the question why? Did they just not understand that a name, especially a nickname was supposed to add significance to a person’s life?

This unfortunate circumstance does help ot explain why I was either picked last or not at all for things like pickup sports, after all when you are a competitive boy as most boys are a turtle is the last thing you want to slow your team down.

It still horrifies me whenever anyone calls me by that dreadful name. I must have spent the better part of my life trying to change it or at very least change me. I always thought that if I were to accomplish something great people would be forced to remember me by my real name, but no matter what I did or tried to do being slow seemed to be my only recognizable quality.

The one thing that I had going for me was my ability to escape, I was a dreamer. I spent most of my time both awake and sleeping dreaming of how a turtle could be more than a slow moving reptile who when in trouble resorted to hiding in his shell. Thus was born “The Reptilian” a super hero like none other, part man part turtle with fighting skills such as Kung Fu, Judo, Jujitsu and other dark arts.

This man was an accomplished artist, musician and songwriter although for the most part he was a loner, he was a hopeless romantic longing for the one woman who would fulfill his unusual often complex and empty life. We all know that the superhero always gets the girl right? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as with me the “Reptilian” had a hard time just getting a date. I guess women had a hard time getting past the name.

All of this talk about the Reptilian brings to mind one of my favorite episodes let me share that with you if I may. As I mentioned Reptilian who prefers to be called “Rep” is an accomplished artist. In this episode he is showcasing some of his work.

((Gallery of Dreams Unfulfilled))

With little money to work with and few friends to depend on Rep takes his best work and leases a warehouse loft somewhere in the Pittsburgh strip district. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds and although dimly lit the place in many ways helped to give emphasis to the inner character of the artist and his work.

On the first three nights of the four-night exhibition, very few people even graced the doorway and the few that did thought they were entering a new bar or nightclub. Having little interest in art these nite drifters made their way back to the door to continue their search for the perfect night spot.

However on the final evening a daring young woman crossed the threshold with what seemed to be eyes of wonder and intrigue. I watched silently as she began to navigate her way through the dimly lit gallery. This woman seemed to be so much in tune with the mood surrounding the work itself. She was almost like another piece on exhibit. As she moved about stopping for elongated examination of each artistic impression she somehow seemed to belonged.

She was about halfway through when I hesitantly chose to approach her. I thought, if only I could discover her name and why she and I although unknown to one another seemed drawn to or at least interested in the same things.

When I got close enough I excused myself, as she seemed to be almost lost in her observations. She was very attractive and seemed non-complex and approachable.

Totally expecting for her to blow me off, my heart sank as she turned in response to my interruption. I desperately longed to be confident yet something in me clangs to an overwhelming fear of rejection. I struggled to prepare my words to respond to her as she asked, “yes may I help you?” My tongue froze to the roof of my mouth and my eyes began to dart back and forth in my head.

I felt like an elementary schoolboy being asked to read aloud in front of my first grade class. Saying the first thing that came to mind, I apologized stating that she reminded me of someone and then returned defeated to the shadows in silence. I watched her from the distance thinking to myself how things could have, would have and should have worked out. What I wouldn’t do for another chance?

Time must have gotten away from me; my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the voice of my only patron, this beautiful vision of a woman who seemed to climb from the very depth of my own artistic passion on display. Being caught off guard my heart again shuttered, I found myself almost animated as I listened to hear the words she spoke. She said that she had really enjoyed my work and asks if I would be around much longer?

My response was rough and not well thought out, “I wish.” She then smiled and turned toward the door. Before exiting she again turns and say’s, I’m sorry I wasn’t who you were looking for, by the way my name is Renee, the door closed behind her and she disappeared in the evening crowd.

In a silent scream a voice within me cried out saying, but you are, really you are whom I seek if only I had the confidence to tell you when my chance was presented. I tried to convince myself that perhaps this was for the best still silently hoping for yet another chance.

Even our dreams are affected by the image by which we see ourselves. While we may over emphasize gifts and skills that may or may not exist, when unmasked the personality and deep aspects of ones heart are painfully intact. This doesn’t feel as bad when compared to the way that other superheroes actually perform to the pressures of daily living.

I’m sure most of you have seen Spiderman and the original Superman. The thing most consistent with each of these characters is that they were both loners who while unmasked could not even hold the attention of their love interests.

At least for Spiderman and Superman their deficiencies are not attributed to their names.

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