My Identity (or How I Became a Bum) by Pam Miller

I have mentioned before that I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for four years now at a nearby Alliance church. I love it! I have found that I am gifted at and enjoy helping others communicate and understand this crazy thing we call the English language.

It’s no “cakewalk” explaining that something is a “piece of cake,” “the icing on the cake,” or that it simply “takes the cake.” If you don’t prefer cake then feel free to say something is “easy as pie.” Speaking of “pie” - maybe you need to tell a “cutie pie” that since you are as “American as apple pie” you need to “eat humble pie” and admit - yes, native English speakers have an obsession with food. But I digress…

So I have an older married couple in my class that recently fled Syria. He was a college professor and his English is fairly good (really good, okay, decent, reasonable, sufficient – oh, so many words to express the same meaning!) But I digress…

The following illustrates how I learned that Arabic speakers don’t naturally know how to pronounce the letter “P”.  The other week this Syrian man stopped me after class and very seriously wanted to know what he should call me instead of just saying “teacher.” I had signed e-mails and texts as “Pam” and that was the name on the large tag around my neck but that didn’t mean he understood that HE was allowed to call me Pam.

So I pronounced my name several times to him and he proudly tried to copy me. That’s when I learned that “P” sounds like “B” when coming out of his mouth. I was okay with that. I hoped to hear him call me “Bam” – that packs a punch and would certainly get my attention. But alas, that’s not the sound he made since he also didn’t share my ability to make a nasal New York “a” sound. Okay, I thought, maybe he could make the vowel sound in “Bomb” (who doesn’t want to be “da bomb”?). Alack & alas – he tried again and could only muster up “BUM” (go ahead and try to figure out how you’d explain “muster up” to someone).  But I digress…

Several times with a smile on his face (proudly thinking he was copying my pronunciation) he said, “Bum”! I should have stopped him right then and said, “Oh, you can just call me “teacher” but I didn’t. I settled for Bum.

Aren’t you glad your identity isn’t determined by the name(s) people call you?

Here are just a few names our Heavenly Father calls us:

A Chosen People, Children of God, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, Members of Christ’s Body, Bride and Friend, His Special Possession, His Temple and His Workmanship

This month as we celebrate Christmas and the gift of Jesus take some time to contemplate how Jesus stripped off His identity to clothe you with your new identity.

Walk today as a friend of the Most High.