Claudine Phillips

2015: Word of the year and the power of your given name

What’s in a name?

I really never paid attention to the meanings of names until after I had my first two children. We named our kids their names because we liked them and thought they sounded good with our last name. Seriously, we had no clue people actually looked up the meanings of names when they named their kids. I guess we lived under a rock when that memo was being handed out.

I remember, vaguely, looking up my name once when I was in my early twenties with my apartment dial-up analogue Internet. It took a long time to find the meaning. And at that, it was not clear what my name meant, or maybe I was not ready to receive it. I’m pretty sure it was the latter.

This is what I recall finding.

Claudine is a feminine form of Claude.

So I looked of Claude, of course, and found:



My name means lame.

I turned off the computer {because that is what you did back then. I can’t remember the last time I turned off my laptop}.


Conversations came up over the next two decades regarding name meanings and I avoided them like the plague. I felt lame as it was so why bring up that it was ACTUALLY MY NAME?

A few months ago, my Uncle mentioned that my paternal grandmother had a hand in naming my older sisters and myself. Christine, Charlene, and Claudine. Cute, huh? Our names were intended to be ‘rhyme-ey and impressive’. Let me introduce you to my children Messiah, Free-Man, and Lame. Messiah and Free-man did not mind the names at all. {smirk} Hard to compete with names like that, eh?


Just this week, I was eating my most favorite meal to eat out, breakfast, with two of my most favorite change makers in the world. The meanings of names came up and I shyly said, “My name means lame.” And just like that, one friend spouted out, “Jesus came to heal the sick and the lame.” {Matthew 15:30} I have read the stories, heard sermons on it, and even found inspiration from Jesus’ miracles of healing the sick and lame, but never applied it to me. I was not going to be that “lame” person I envisioned each time I read those stories. They were either crippled, blind, or shamed. So I dismissed her comment.

Her reaction stuck with me, however, well into the day. I was not “unable to walk due to injury of the foot or leg.” Sure, I was broken, not perfect, but to go the lengths of calling me lame seemed extensive. I was a survivor. I knew how to endure huge amounts of pain, rejection, and defeat, but I was not a gimp. I was still standing, after all. Survivors are not lame.


Later that SAME day, my oldest son, completely out of the blue, asked me why I was named lame. I responded to him what my friend told to me earlier that day. “Jesus came to heal the sick and the lame!” He was stunned and speechless, rare. I smiled, turned, and walked away not completely believing what I just said.

Her comment got the best of me to the point of looking up my name {although not extensively-20 years later} and meditating on His story {more extensively} in Acts 3:1-10 that evening.

The meaning of my name had not changed, but I did find this in Acts.

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10 NIV

Since my name was given to me at birth, I, too, was lame from my mother’s womb. And when I was capable, I daily asked for alms from others. I positioned myself in front of others that I felt were beautiful in heart and asked them to feed me hope and tell me I was everything BUT lame. Nothing ever filled that empty cup. Then there was Jesus. Just like that, the lame man strength immediately when he believed. He leapt, walked, and praised God. Other’s noticed and gave glory to the healer.

I want that.

I guess we are all lame to some extent. Although not all of us are literally “unable to walk normally because of an injury or illness affecting the leg or foot,” we are all to some degree unable to walk in life fully because of some sort of heart matter that has injured us in the past or possibly we are so ill due to the lack of the ability to love or even receive love. Literally or figuratively, we are all lame.

The sound of the word affects me deeply. It leaves me somewhat paralyzed. I feel deformed, handicapped, gimpy, and, frankly, bruised. I like to think God processes this word differently, however. I believe that when he hears the word lame he thinks the words soothe, rejuvenate, rebuild, and mend. He is the healer after all.


I can only imagine what stirs inside him when he sees someone admit they are lame. It is like a door in which he has been knocking for decades suddenly unlocks. His heart skips a beat and he is ushered in to settle, treat, restore, and rehabilitate. He is allowed in to do the job only he can do.

My mind knows this, but my heart has had a hard time believing that He is the healer. I find myself over functioning in relationships to make them work or heal because I feel less than. I try to win their love, peace, and acceptance. I am doing His job.


Today I have come to a resolve in this matter of functioning in my lameness. I believe he is my healer. Each time I feel less than, exposed, sidelined, or disabled, I will simply step aside. I will open the door to the healer of such feelings and let him do his job. This is my hope and I am going to give it all I got.

I believe He heals, corrects, changes, strengthens, and breathes life in me.

I look at being named lame as a reminder that I AM lame and because of this I depend on him to heal everything in my life. I will sometimes step up and sometimes step aside. When he calls I want to say, “Yes Lord, here I am.”

I have chosen a word of the year {woty} for the past few years and this one is no different. My plan was to choose the word “able” because it is opposite of lame. God had other plans.

My word is Claudine this year. On the outside it looks silly to claim my actual already given name, but when you uncover the word, as I have today, I am proud my name means lame. It is time to own my name. Not run from it. Some would say it may be a way to get attention or be different. It is just something I need to do for me. This word, my name, reminds me {and hopefully others} that God is my Healer, my Rescuer, and my One.

“And all the people saw (her) walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was (s)he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate {other’s approval} of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to (her).”

She believed.

I was once lame in my own right.
Pitiful, disabled, and poor.
But now I can see me in His sight.
Beautiful, redeemed, and adored.



Happy New Year my Change Makers. May you be able to see God in both the ups and downs in your year.

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