My mother named me Arnesha. She thought it was cute and she claims to have “made it up.” Arnesha–a name with no real meaning but whose meaning was created by my experiences and the personality that I developed. Arnesha is not a word that transformed into a popular name over the years. Arnesha never sounded as feminine and beautiful as “Brittany” or “Ashley.” At least not to me. The Brittany’s and Ashley’s were the pretty, popular girls who attracted all of the compliments and all of the friends. They fit in and stood out, together. I was always alone…on the side. I was the one labeled weird. “Why couldn’t I be an Ashley? Why didn’t my mama name me Brianna? Maybe I’d look or be like them.”
If you cannot already tell, allow me to reiterate–I hated my name growing up, seemingly because I hated myself. I hated the way it sounded when people said it. I was disgusted at the sound of “Arnesha” rolling off of my classmates’ and peers’ Texan tongues. I hated introducing myself and having to say it. All I could think of was hearing my husky, country voice saying “Hi, my name is Are-Kneeee-Shuhhh.” I cringe even now typing this. As I got older, I started playing with the idea of calling myself a new name. I never honestly thought I’d go forth with legally changing it.
My first AOL username was Niko446. My nickname is Nesha. My middle name is Nicole. I figured Niko (pronounced Neeko) was a good combination of the two. Random: 446 was the prefix of my aunt’s phone number at the time. I also experimented with “Arnesha Nicole” in high school. My middle name “Nicole” seemed to make my name a lil’ bit mo’ prettier. People would often call me Arnesha Nicole or, simply, Nicole. I liked the sound of that. After graduation, while on the dating scene, I started using a fake name. Couldn’t have all the people knowing my business in dem skreets. I gave a shot at Neela for a couple of summers. Her full name was Neela Fiasca, a beautiful disaster. I was starting to feel attractive. More guys were interested in me. But inside I knew I was toxic, and at that time I didn’t know how to fix it. Calling myself Neela Fiasca, A Beautiful Disaster was a reflection of that.
After a short while, Neela got old. I didn’t want any connection to those past summers, so to the name graveyard she went. I experimented with a few more names until I came up with Nikki. NikkiDOPE to be exact. Nikki is a name that I actually still embrace. My middle name is Nicole, remember? But the DOPE part always gave me imposter syndrome vibes. I tried my hardest to embody DOPE, but God wouldn’t let me be comfortable in it. To me, dope meant being extra and fake and something I really wasn’t. Who I was created to be was so much holier and righteous than just being “dope,” but I held on to that pseudonym for yeeeeaarrrs not wanting to let the dope die. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that name tug of war actually was a spiritual battle (I’ll speak more on that in another post or video). After years of trying to blog and be the next big, dope thing in entertainment, I finally retired “NikkiDOPE.” I knew from the start that she was destined to die. I just didn’t want to let her go. 2012-2020ish. RIP NikkiDOPE. If you call me Nikki, I’ll still answer though. I’ve always felt more comfortable with “Nikki” than “Arnesha” ever since I introduced myself as her. Or shall I say introduced myself as me. Names seem to bring on a sense of multiple personalities, which is not something I promote. A name is so important.
After officially retiring NikkiDOPE, I got rid of every screen name connected to it. I tried to hold on to my old Instagram name, but thankfully someone has FINALLY taken over my once self-coveted name. NikkiDOPE no longer exists in me. So in lieu of NikkiDOPE’s departure, I attempted to finally embrace Arnesha. I didn’t want to go by multiple names anymore. I tried to come up with an ear-catching username and blog name that incorporated Arnesha. I unsettledly settled on Arnesha Does Life. What other name would be better? Arnesha is who God made me to be, right? Wrong. I still hated the way it sounded. And with everything I’ve gone through, I started having the urge to change it, again…
Arnesha, the name my mama gave me. ArNesha, the way my father wanted to spell it. I never thought I’d really ever change it, until now. Legally. I have been and grown through many life experiences, my share of trauma, medical issues, failed relationships, rejection, rebellion, verbal and mental abuse, doctrines of devils, holding on to the past, the list goes on. I kept thinking about how if I am supposed to be a new creature in Christ, why am I experiencing a lot of the same things I did in my past? Why am I not healed? Why do I struggle with mental health issues? Why am I uncomfortable in my own skin? Who am I? God, am I really saved? Am I really Your child? God, I want to walk in the fullness of who you created me to be. Abba, I want to be whole and holy, complete in You. Abba, heal my heart. Abba, make me whole, in Jesus’ name…I just want to be free. I want spiritual freedom. I want to be complete. Make me whole, Lord.
Whole. Complete. Peace. Shalom.
I begin looking up words. Names. I researched that the name Nicole is french stemming from the word Nike, like the shoe but pronounced differently, which means victory. Going back to my first self-created nickname, Niko, I never knew the significance of that name until I began researching the origin and meaning of my name. Nicole is the feminine french variation of Nikolaos. Niko-loas. Victory. It means “victory of the people” or “people of victory.” Victory. In Christ we have victory, we are more than conquerors. I like that. I’m keeping that. Nicole. A reminder of the victory I have in Christ Jesus. Nicole was a name specifically set aside for me.
Arnesha on the other hand? When searching for a name meaning, I ended up on a variety of Kabalah, esoteric, astrological, numerology type of sites that had their own definitions of what the name meant, one even stating my greatest strengths, flaws, and weaknesses and health issues to the T. Talk about freaked out. I first found one of the sites in 9th grade, but knowing what I know now, biblically/scripturally, I want nothing to do with occult definitions of what my name means. I chopped it up as my name meaning everything I’d been through up until becoming a new creature, for real for real, in Christ. I’m a new creature in Christ. I want to walk in the wholeness already set before me by faith. I am who God says I am.
Whole. Complete. Peace. Shalom.
Shalom is a word that has always stood out to me. Below are some screenshots from Strong’s Concordance on http://www.blueletterbible.com.
Shalom means completeness, soundness, wholeness, peace. I’ve always heard of Shalom meaning “peace” or “peace be unto you,” but I don’t think the western world has the true and richer definition of what peace really means. I don’t think of peace as just the absence of conflict, but the ability to remain calm, whole, and sound in the midst of trials as well as in the better times. To me, Shalom embodies the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. Shalom embodies patience, and without patience, how peaceful can one really be? Every fruit of the spirit goes hand-in-hand. Shalom brings recognition to the others just as the others bring about Shalom. Knowing everything that I have been through and this healing journey to Shalom God is taking me on has caused this word to resonate deeply within me. Shalom is the name I feel bubbling from within me. Hearing the word Shalom feels like a prophecy to me. Calling myself Shalom is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s like speaking life into me. For some of you, it might not be this deep, but for me, it really is. I am changing my first name to Shalom. Shalom Nicole. I’m in the process now and will update once everything is complete. My blog name will be changing once it’s official. But you can begin calling me Shalom now. I will always be known as Arnesha, but Abba has given me a new name. A new identity. It is in Christ that I am Shalom. I want to be everything that God has called me to be.