left with his name...

I just got back from Thanksgiving 5 pounds heavier physically, 50 pounds heavier emotionally.

Here's why.

My wife's sister has weathered a horrific turn of events in her marriage over the course of the last 6 months which has left her doing the lion-share of holding her children together as well as herself. Just seeing the collateral damage of a broken marriage firsthand was sobering.

I think the thing that just tore me up was walking up the sidewalk toward their front steps and seeing "The Terpstra's" chiseled into a rock off the left side of the entry way. I don't know why, but it just didn't sit right inside me.

How can a man court a woman, take her from her father & mother & sister & brother, ask her to take on his name, and then leave her? She is now Angela "Terpstra" and her children are "Terpstra's". Her home is covered with pictures and memorabilia with that mark of identity written on checks and documents and household furnishings, and the one who asked everyone to take on his name isn't even there. They are left with his name--in many ways bound to it--and he is off spending the holidays with another woman living another life. Something is wrong with this picture.

How dare a man invite a woman into a life whereby she leaves her name behind and assumes his identity as her own only to strand her with an "empty word"? It's not a name anymore, it's a word. I remember hearing someone say, "Your name is all you have." It is your honor, your mark of truth and trust. When you lose your name, you lose everything. All you are left with is a word, an empty, sad, vacuous collection of letters.

It's not just the woman either, the children bear that name as well. They have to sign it on their school papers and say it when called upon in class. They have to see it on the back of their uniforms when they head out on the field and hear it spoken over the loud speakers after they make a tackle on Friday night. The boys will meet someone someday and pass that name along to her. The power of a name is everlasting, you can't just move on and assume another name if you're a son. That's with you for life. There's no getting away from that name, that backstory. It's part of your heritage, your hermitage.

I watched my nephews and my niece wrestle between innocent childhood and premature adulthood in unpredictable waves of rest & restlessness. One moment they would be lost in joy and the next minute their eyes would be sunken in with sorrow. One minute they would be laughing from their gut and the next minute they would be in their room crying from the absence of their father. It was forcing them to endure something they didn't have the scaffolding to emotionally support. What do you do with that?

This name loomed over us the whole weekend. This name was attached to everything touched and talked about. This name is forever etched into our hearts like that welcome rock next to the front porch. It reminds you of days gone by and days yet to come. It taunts you to anger and haunts you with sorrow. It won't leave you be, letting you get on with the beauty of life because, for now, it's the most present/absent thing about reality.

So I'll say it again, if you're a man and you ask a woman to leave her name and take on yours, if you plan on asking her to leave everything she's ever known to come under the banner of your identity, if you want to create offspring that forever are stamped with your signature for the remainder of their days, and if you want to etch your "John Hancock" in the immovable rock of your family's heart, please understand the gravity of your every move, your every motivation, your every moment. All those under your name are counting on your nobility. Their reputation is bound to your next decision. Clave to your character.

When a name becomes a byword, you're never closer to hell in this life.

Comments

David Cortner said…
So well written and so well communicated...thanks, Jason.
Kate andre said…
This made me cry. You are 100% dead on. Thinking of angela and her children. The Lord has a way... He really does. Praying for His inexplicable tenderness to be nearer still
My daughter is going through this too, Jason. I'm so glad she didn't have children yet. That sounds so awful, but it is what I feel. How could he take her 2000 miles from us just to break her heart? We are so happy to have her back. I'm very sorry for your niece and nephews, who will hurt the most.
troy hutchison said…
I agree Jason. I am going thru the exact same thing but my wife cheated on me. O feel the pain and anger and hurt. I watch my kids try and understand what's going on. Praise God for christian counselors. Tell Angela I am praying for her and of she needs to talk have her call me its on my facebook page.
Amanda said…
Well written! I am a friend of Angela's and my heart is breaking for her. I am so thankful for the godly men that are so close to her.
Marla Taviano said…
Praying for Ang and the kids. For all of you. And him too, hard as it is to bring myself to do it.
GrizzlyManJ said…
Good word, man. Thanks for sharing. Needed to read that.
Sue U said…
What an EXCELLENT post, Jason. I wish every man could read this and consider for a moment what's at stake with a name and the legacy he leaves. You captured it beautifully, although bittersweet with the reality of all of this.
One thing I KNOW about the Cortner name -- they KNOW how to stick together as family and they will get through this time as well, together, and supporting and upholding each other. I believe God will "make all things new" and although it won't erase or take away the pain for now, He will slowly, daily, bring healing and joy back into their broken hearts again. He's the MASTER of putting things back together, creating "new" from old and restoring and bringing even greater blessing than before.
I know that's not for this holiday or maybe even the next, but "joy DOES come in the morning." And weeping will only last for a night, and God will bring the healing rain and Sonshine again. I believe it -- and am praying for Angela and the kids daily. Love you all!
Mrs. Johnson said…
Jason, reading this made tears come to my eyes. I have experienced this firsthand and everything you said is so true. I hope every man reads this and takes it to heart! Praying for Angela and her kids!
Amanda Olson said…
I never thought of "a name" like that. Please let Angela know that we are lifting her family up in prayer and it breaks our hearts that she is going through this. You did a wonderful heartfelt job!
Halie Cotterman said…
Hi Jason
I don't know you but I'm a friend of Angela's and her neighbor. Our hearts break for her and the children during this rough time, as her neighbor we see the emotional roller coaster that her and her children are on, and it is so sad.
What you written is so true and I hope "he" reads it too, maybe than he can get some sort of reality check.
I hope Heidi, you an the rest of the family know that there are people here in town like myself who care for Ang and the children. She is a dear friend to me and I will trybmy best to be a strong support for her.
Thanks again for your blog, it was very moving!
Happy holidays
Halie
Kristi Huelsman said…
Well said, Jason. It is amazing how many lives are affected and changed by the choice(s) of one person.
Vickie said…
Knowing firsthand what Heidi's sister is going through, I know how hard it is to make the choice between keeping that name that so dishonored me and the people I love more than my own life...my kids. One of the main reasons that I decided to keep that name that is a constant reminder of the hell I went through (and continue to endure every day, thankfully to a lesser degree after many years), is that I wanted to teach my children that a name is not just what is left to you but what you make of it. The three of us struggle to recreate our integrity and nobility (to use Jason's excellent word) and reattach it to these 5 letters, so that when my son passes it on to his children, it has been redefined. It is consciously and subconsciously my life's work, every day.
Sarah Terpstra Thrash said…
I"m John's sister, and I'm just heartbroken that he has caused this horrific pain on Angela, Jack, Blake and Gabby. I'm so sorry and I am praying for them daily...
noble said…
This is so very well written and so true. I pray for this family as well as the whole Terpstra and Courtner parents and siblings. To see a broken marriage is horrible. To see the turmoil that Angela and the kids are going through is awful. I keep praying. Knowing that someday I hope John will realize that it is not just about him and his life. It affects everyone.
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