It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be
- "Sigh No More" by Mumford and Sons
My paternal grandmother, whom I loved immensely, was born in 1924 and was named Otilia, a beautiful Polish name. Well, I can only assume that in the 1940s she didn't want a beautiful Polish name anymore, so after her aunt and namesake died, she changed her name to Anita when she was 18 years old. I have no idea why she chose that name, but she did. Her dad took her down to change it, and the rest is history. I didn't even know that Anita wasn't her original name until my teens. She made everyone keep it a secret. She was funny like that.
Fast forward a while, and you get to my birth. I was named after both of my grandmothers - Anita Marie. My mom tells me that she could never see calling a little baby Anita, so from the day I was born I was called Annie. I didn't know that my real name was Anita until I was 5 or 6 years old. I could never understand why they didn't just name me Marie Anita, but I can only assume that it was because my dad didn't get along with his mother-in-law.
In kindergarten I went by Annie because my mom told them that's what I went by, but in first grade the teacher gave me the option. She said, "They told me you go by Annie, so do you want us to call you Annie or Anita?" Well, being the "shy" little girl that I was, not wanting to rock the boat or cause anyone trouble, I meekly answered, "Anita." I immediately regretted it because it didn't sound like my name at all. I basically had a school name and a home name. It took until the eighth grade to finally get up the courage to tell my teachers that I went by Annie. I think some of my middle school friends are still confused as to what my name is.
Now, I LOVED my Gramma - like really really really loved her with all my heart. I'm pretty sure I was the closest grandchild to her, and I don't think any of my cousins would contest that. I spent the most time with her. I would spend hours looking at her old photo albums and asking her about the past. I would take care of her house and her lawn. And I still dream about her today as if she's still alive (she died the year I got married). In my dreams she doesn't have a problem speaking as she did in real life as the result of several strokes. I like to think about how I'm going to see her in Heaven, and she'll be totally renewed like in my dreams.
That said, I feel like "Anita" is my lovely Gramma, but I'm "Annie". I've always wanted to change my name legally to "Annie" just for simplicity's sake, but it's kind of a chore. I also didn't want to disgrace my Gramma's memory. But the more I would think about it, the more I started to think that she would give me her blessing. If she didn't (she was stubborn as a mule), then I would just point out the hypocrisy to her, and she'd concede. We were cool like that.
So this year I decided to do it - I am in the process of changing my name to "Annie". I'm really excited about it, because I feel like it coincides completely with the restoration that God has been doing in my life. I'm running to become the athlete that He made me to be. I'm coming into my restored personality with greater confidence and strength as the unique person that God created me to be. I am restored to the "Annie" that I was made to be - no longer living with the consequences of two, young, broken adolescents. God is a really good parent, and He's restoring me day by day to be the woman that He has made me to be.