I was scanning through work e-mails one Monday afternoon when my eyes landed at the very top of an e-mail reply. I groaned out of sheer disbelief as I read:
Monday, April 9, 2012 2:52 p.m.
“Jennifer, as you know…”
Odd as it may seem, my first name, Jessica, often gets replaced by Jennifer. In person. On the phone. In e-mail.
It began in high school when an adult volunteer in my parish mistakenly referred to me as Jenny, even though I’d been active at my home church my entire life and my letterman’s jacket prominently displayed my first name.
Every week he’d casually ask, “How’s your week going, Jenny?” And every week I’d stand wearing my letterman’s jacket, smile at his mistake and answer without correcting him. If that’s what he wants me to be called, I thought, then he can go right ahead.
This mistaken identity has followed me intermittently through college and into the working world, as this recent e-mail reminded me. Even beyond this misnomer, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s easier to let misconceptions pass by without correction.
Sitting in the chair at a salon, I almost always claim to be an only child when a new stylist snips at my strands and strikes up casual conversation about my family. In that hour, I’d rather be an only child than to explain to a perfect stranger that I’m a sister to a boy in heaven.
When topics like birth control and gay marriage find themselves in casual conversation with my peers, it’s easier to keep my Catholic views to myself and nod in agreement with the collective views of the group, despite my core beliefs.
How is it that we can inadvertently deny who we are so many times as we move through life? In the dating world, especially, we come face-to-face with people of all backgrounds, values and beliefs, and our true self is tested. Many singles are tempted to hide part of themselves for the sake of perceived compatibility or for fear of rejection. And we’ve all witnessed friends lose themselves in someone else.
No matter what others assume or expect of us, God calls us to be our true self, the very person He created us to be. There are no mistaken identities with God. He knows every hair on our head, down to our very core. He calls us to be authentic followers, strong and proud of who we are and our faith, no matter what others assume or expect of us.
Stand strong in your identity as a Catholic single. Be the man or woman God created you to be in this very moment. He’s been intentional in your life, so be intentional in your life for Him.
And if someone gets your name wrong, correct them the first time. Take Jenny’s advice.