I have this thing about names. My laptop is named, my car is named, I call my philodendron “Phil” and my lily “Lily.” Ever since I was a child, I have perused naming books with wild abandon, learning the meanings of as many names and onomastic morphemes as possible. As such, I have noticed over the years that a person’s name almost always reveals their character. My mom’s name, for example, means “pure.” The better I get to know her as a friend, not just my mother, the more I am convinced a purer heart can’t be found. My dad’s name is another example: it means “wagon maker”—a hard worker. Of all his wonderful traits, his work ethic and willingness to do whatever is necessary to provide are unparalleled. And in all the classes I have taught in the last nine years, rarely have I come across a person whose name is a mismatch for his or her character. (And who’s to say it won’t be a perfect match later in life?) Because I am somewhat of a mystic and a hippie, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence.
My own name has two very similar meanings. The way I spell it is the female form of the French word for “friend.” I don’t want to get off-track here, so suffice it to say that friendship is something I have always taken very seriously. My introverted tendencies make me very cautious about trusting and loving, but once I do, I am sold-out loyal forever. The second meaning for Amie/Amy—the one you’ll find in the name books—is “the beloved.” Imagine my surprise, then, as a name fiend, when I discovered that in Song of Songs the woman who exults in erotic love shares my name: “Beloved.”
I read Song of Songs a few weeks before I met my husband. Always before, I’d blown past it, thinking, “How awkward.” But curled up on my couch one evening, I was flipping through the Bible when I decided to try it out. Of course, at that point I had no idea the sexual difficulties I’d be battling in less than a year; I had no reason to believe sex would be anything other than outrageously wonderful. Still, it struck me that the woman’s name was “Beloved.” As someone who takes names so seriously, I felt a little as though I were reading something meant especially for me, something I needed to read. Kiss me and kiss me again, Beloved says. How fragrant is your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the women love you! Take me with you; come, let’s run! (Song of Songs 1:2-4a, NLT). (I find it humorous that the first two things Beloved praises about her man are how good he smells and the lovely feel of his name on her lips…That is so me. Cologne/aftershave have always been my favorite aphrodisiacs, and we all know how I love names.)
While I understood conceptually the idea of passionate love, I had never had a sex drive in my life. Even in the heat of making out, I’d never had any problem at all stopping with just that. Regardless of how intense the kissing, I wasn’t aroused or weak in the knees; it was just fun. Never had I craved sexual union, even though I cared deeply about some of the guys I dated. Never had I wanted to say, in Beloved’s words, “Take me with you.” The idea of “come, let’s run” was completely lost on me. For years, I asked God why he “knit me together” without this essential component. It was as though he’d said, “Let’s give her a measure of intelligence…put her in a good family…make sure she has a few talents…Okay, what’s left? Sexuality? Eh, she doesn’t need that.”
Not surprisingly, I didn’t transform into a nymphomaniac after my husband and I exchanged rings. It got much worse, given my multilayered struggle with sexuality. I prayed over and over that God would heal me physically, guide me to a healthier body image, challenge my opinion of sex, and give me a sex drive. Anytime I needed reassurance that eventually these things would happen for me, I read Beloved’s words, taking them as a promise of what was in store. I chose to believe that one day I would be able to say things like that, too. Listen to how lovely this is, for example:
I am my lover’s, and he claims he as his own. Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers…There I will give you my love…new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover (Song of Songs 7:10, 12, 13, NLT).
So I have gone about this journey, reminding myself of my name: I am “the beloved.” God made me with the opportunity to enjoy sexual union. The simple fact is that my destiny, inherent in my name, is to be the delight of my lover’s. My destiny is to echo Beloved’s words: When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees (Song of Songs 8:10b, NLT). My destiny is to “give my love,” the “delights” I possess, to my lover. Because I am Amie. I am Beloved.
To be continued. Don’t give up on me yet.