I’ve always liked my name – Kayla. It’s not particularly pedestrian, but it doesn’t fall within the realm of silly celebrity baby names either. It’s short – like me. It doesn’t come with an assortment of variants I could choose from like James, Jimmy, Jim or Jennifer, Jenny, Jen. Although sometimes it seems like that would have suited me. When I look back on my thirty years of existence, it feels as though many of my memories are the relics from other lives lived, of a person that I hardly even know anymore, much less recognize as myself.
I’ve always found the origin of my name a little outrageous. Some people are named after a beloved relative or Biblical figure. Perhaps they are named after a favorite author or actor or artist. However, the inspiration for my name comes from a less refined and righteous place – it comes from the Days of Our Lives character “Kayla Brady” from the 1980’s. I have often over the course of my life wondered laughingly and longingly whether the name my parents chose to bestow upon me doomed me to the soap opera-like drama that seems to have punctuated much of my love life.
Perhaps most poignantly, my first name was one thing I did not have to share with my twin sister. We shared the same last name, the same class schedule all through school, the same group of friends, and the same hobbies (dance, gymnastics, cheerleading). Despite being distinct and dissimilar people, for most of our pre-college lives, we were consolidated into one impersonal persona – the twins, the Drumwrights, Janelle and Kayla, Kayla and Janelle. Most people either knew both of us or neither of us, but I sometimes wonder whether those who did distinguish between us really knew us. We were kind of a package deal. I learned to answer to either name because people would frequently mistake me for my sister or vice versa. Despite being fraternal, not identical, despite my being 2 inches shorter, despite my going through a “rock” phase where I dyed my hair maroon, then vibrant red, and then black, it seemed many people weren’t interested in learning which half of the whole I was. Guessing gave you 50/50 odds anyway, right? It wasn’t until college when we each finally got a taste of an independent identity that I realized how affected I was when hearing someone say my name, meaning me and me alone. Kayla – standalone, singular, and oh so sweet!
Hindsight hints that most of my twenties were spent endeavoring to differentiate myself. From changing hair colors, to changing boyfriends, to changing parts of the country, I sought novelty, sovereignty, and sui generis. Therefore, the irony is not lost on me that as I sought to escape one shared identity, I stumbled into yet another. For there is a name that is above all names, and it is in Him that I discovered my true identity – an identity that I share not with just one sibling, but with countless brothers and sisters.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” — Ephesians 3:14-19