Mary, Martha, Maritza

My grandmother, “Gamma,” goes by her middle name, Ofélia. Her birth name was Maria Ofélia Piñon.

My mother, “Mama,” goes by a name she picked one day just because, Pilar. Her birth name was Marta Abdona Valle.

I go by Ritz. My birth name is Maritza Amanda Valle.

Maria, Marta, Maritza.

i love that.

I love getting to carry on the generational crazy. There are things about me that I definitely get from Gamma. I spent a lot of time with her as a child. Every once in a while, i say something and then gasp, because I sound JUST like my mom (spencer points it out too, brat.)

I love that between them they have overcome more obstacles than I am likely to ever see. Because I am not trying to marry a white man before the Civil Rights movement. Because I was afforded the grace of being lifted out of the poverty into which I was born. Because I have the gift of learning from the pain they had to go through.

Diana once gave me a card that said, “A woman is like tea. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

I think gamma often represented her namesakes. Mary- the old definition, before our savior came. Mara, mary, bitter, wounded one. Ofelia, who died in pain from pursuing her lover.

I’ve talked before about how mama was the proto-typical Martha. Always trying, always working. I often read to her about sitting at Jesus’ feet. And she cries for the pain of how foreign and scary it would be for her to stop working at being enough. (Although, she’s given God a lot of freedom to change her, she’s submitted to his grace more and more, and it’s so sweet to see him love her into stillness.)

And I, I got no small measure of each of those things from them. I’ve pursued false lovers to my despair. I’ve let bitterness make a home in my heart. I’ve tried to work hard enough to be enough, and then hard enough to make me numb to the fact that I cannot be enough on my own.

But when Jesus saves, he doesn’t leave us as-is. He makes us new. I am a NEW creation. Not the leftovers from the broken life I knew before him.

I can only hope to show the world the gift of my namesake. To be the little blessed one, marked with the love of the maker, the plan, from the very beginning, to change his people’s weeping into laughter. The plan, from the very beginning, to take generations of chains from pain and sin and bondage and rip those chains away. Sometimes I still live like a slave, but I know the truth: it is for freedom that Christ set me free.

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