So this past weekend during Jayson’s celebration of being welcomed into a new family and new life, I was asked a question. Alex Turcios had asked me what my middle name was. I caught myself being embarrassed and did not want to tell him. I tried to ignore the question, but I had to remind myself that it is part of who I am. So, I decided I would tell him as my good friend. As soon as I told him, he started laughing and kept laughing and he said it out loud 2 more times. Right there in that moment I was reminded of why I do not tell people what is my middle name.
As I started thinking about it I had to really think about what was so embarrassing about it (other than the fact that it is long and super Mexican, ‘like every other Maria Lopez on this planet’). I should be proud of my middle name. My middle name was chosen for me specifically, just as God knows the number of hairs on my head and knew me before I was conceived. As I was praying before bed that night I thought about the amazing gift I have, not only the meaning behind my middle name, but the amazing relationship I have with God. My name is unique just like my faith, it is so different, like no one else.
Perhaps this is how we might feel about our faith, we do not always want to stand up for our moral beliefs or faith, or maybe even something simple like giving thanks for our food in public. We sometimes feel this way because we may feel like people may judge us or maybe even laugh at us. Many times I catch myself feeling like someone will target me because I make the sign of the cross or I say a quick prayer throughout my day. For many involved in Life teen I know it is hard as a teenager in high school to stand up for our faith, even for me in college and those on Core, but God never said it would be easy. Many teenagers and adults, do not understand God’s love and that is why they target us, but for those of us who do; WE ARE SO LUCKY! As I look back I am glad Alex asked me right there and then a simple question that made me realize that I should not be embarrassed of what others will think, but stand up for my faith and give thanks for the amazing reminder of how special and unique my relationship with God is, just as my middle name.
Many know the story behind my middle name and many don’t. My full name is Maria De Los Angeles Lopez. I got my name from God. My mother was going in for a simple check up to see my progress, during the ultra sound they had told her I had a hole in my heart and it was not beating. The next day I was quickly removed at an emergency C-section and I was in the incubator. Before the surgery, my father had prayed to the Virgin Mary. My father promised her that if she let me live, my parents would name me after her and promise to raise me in the Church and introduce me to her love. As I was in the incubator my father had asked the man next to him, whose baby was beside me, as the nurses watched over me, if he could take a picture of me. My father thought it would be my first and last picture because they were told I would not going to live. As the man took a picture they looked at it and they saw the Virgin Mary at my left with angels reaching out to me. Minutes later the results came back and my heart was as strong as new-born baby’s could be and with a strong beat and no hole. The doctor’s were amazed. My father today tells me, many who did not believe in God saw God’s existence that day and are now strong believers in His working hands. I was a healthy baby and was taken home 2 days later with not the name Elizabeth but Maria De Los Angeles. “De Los Angeles” is translated, “from the Angles,” because angels had come with momma Mary to save my life.
Just as my faith, I’m proud to stand up and say my middle name. It took this little understanding of my name to really understand about how I sometimes feel about my faith. Faith is something beautiful that many may never find. We are so lucky to know the love God has for us. God’s grace is greater than the sin we may commit. No more am I embarrassed about my faith and my middle name. I believe God put me on earth for a reason and I cannot wait to see the amazing journey God has in store for me. I will continue to keep standing up not only for my morals in life but my faith and love in God. As I end here, this song popped into my head and really helped me get out how I feel in a beautiful way. “The Stand” by Hillsong explains the struggles we may have standing up for our faith; but remember that this world is full of evil and God will always understand. I’ll stand up for my faith, will you?
P.S. Alex, thanks:)