Naming the New
“Naming the new” is a practice of recognizing and participating in God’s restorative work in our lives. Since our enemy is very good at tempting us with the lie that God is distant and inactive, this naming practice has created a rich, “hope rising” atmosphere in our hearts and home.
It’s easier to begin in the first days of a big transition or immediately after a significant failure or loss, when the dark and the light sit side by side. Practicing when new signs of life are easy to spot will help sustain you when the sightings become few and far between.
Here are some of the ways we’ve practiced:
During the early days of a particular personal failure/loss, we made it a nightly practice to sit together on our sofa after putting the kids to bed and name out loud anything new from that day - no matter how big or small.
- I’m starting to notice when I’m not in the room (mentally/emotionally).
- I had a hard conversation with a powerful person. (It didn’t go well, but I showed up.)
- I felt lighter today and was even able to play with the kids.
- God revealed a pattern today.
When the intensity of that season was over, we stopped meeting on the sofa each night. There weren’t daily sightings anymore, but we’d text or call each other if we noticed something new.
- I laughed really hard today. It’s been a long time, and it felt really good.
- I just ran into _______ at the store and realized I’ve spent more time making up stories about who he is than actually listening to his story. We’re going to lunch next week. Praying for good ears and eyes to listen and see him well.
Now we’ve transitioned from a recovery/wilderness phase, where the “new” felt more like manna (showing up from out of nowhere), to a cultivating phase. Our conversations center more around a prayerful “What NEW do we want to see?” It’s a sweet relationship of interdependence and trust, as we enjoy God’s invitation to participate in His story and be part of what He’s doing.
- What new practice would deepen intimacy in our marriage this year?
- How can we relate to Jesus more as a person, rather than just an idea?
A second practice that goes hand-in-hand with “naming the new” is naming old narratives. You might hear us say “this feels old,” which means that we recognize we’re reacting to a situation based on old wounds or patterns. Then we ask God to help us change the story and write a new ending, which could be as practical as walking out of the room and then walking back into the room to engage the same conversation again, but in a new way.
This is hard, vulnerable work, but it’s also trust-building and rewarding. Let it be your defiant, reality-altering response to an enemy who wants to keep you wallowing in self-pity, hopelessness and regret, and let it continually move you to worship as you recognize the restorative work of Holy Spirit. Gone forever is the misconception that God is distant and inactive as we experience the treasure of the ever present and always-active love of our Jesus.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” - 2 Corinthians 5:17
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” - Revelation 21:5
“Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”” - Mark 5:19
““Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” - Luke 8:39
“I am the Lord, your Holy One,
Israel’s Creator, your King.”
This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” - Ephesians 3:14-21