How I Got My Name Back

“Poca” a girl’s voice asked on the other end of the phone. I knew who it was even though we hadn’t spoke in years. My eyes filled with tears.

“Boo?” We laughed and cried for a few minutes shocked that we had found one another again.

We were forced into prostitution by our pimp years ago. Now both escaped and restored, we had a bond like no other. The nights helping each other get out of situations where tricks would try to hurt us and take their money back only brought us closer. The nights after our pimp would beat one of us and the other would sneak in with ice and kind word-knowing she’d receive the same treatment if caught- reminded us how human we were. Those were the incidents that no one else could understand or even fathom. But she got it, she understood me and what I had been through and I her.

Like any form of slavery, our “master” gave us new names in the game… the life…in our modernized captivity. I was Poca, short for Pocahontas because of my olive complexion and long dark brown hair.  She was Boo, sometimes Bookie. When he gave our fake names nicknames, we knew he was in a good mood. I hadn’t been called by real name in years.  To tricks I used the name on my ad online and to my pimp I was given a name, stripped of my identity, of any normalcy in my life.

Five years later, recovered and restored, taken right back to Jesus like the prodigal son… I was called by my real name: Rebecca.  At first it was weird hearing it and even took me a couple months to get use to introducing myself by my God given name.

On my last day in Washington DC I toured the congress floor. I was inspired by the opportunity to be there and listened intently as the announcer took us through the history of presidents. I thought of course, of all the men and women who helped change laws and get our country to where it is today. Two statues per state were admitted into the main room and lined the outside of the gigantic space. They said that the statue of liberty could fit inside and there would still be thirty feet.

The announcer moved around the room, explaining each mural painted by famous Italian artists, which hung on the walls above the statues. Starting with Columbus walking off the Mayflower and ending with the advent of aviation. Then, he moved to point out the mural of Pocahontas.  She was wearing a white dress and was kneeling in front of a priest getting baptized.

“She was given the Christian name Rebecca.” He proclaimed loudly.

I wept then and there in the middle of the room. People looked at me and I didn’t care… they didn’t know that my old name was Poca. They didn’t know that for years I had been beaten by my trafficker and stripped of my identity as a person. He renamed me, he owned me.  Now, remembering those first few months of calling myself by my real name, reminded me of being baptized into my new life: my walk with Jesus.

I was in awe of God’s hand upon my life, even through it all, He knew.  He knew I would come out triumphantly. I was in awe of how it all came together in the end… the old and the new. The transformation for Pocahontas and for me, both of us now Rebecca.

Experiencing Joy