“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Romeo and Juliet
Flipping through my grade school notebooks you will come to understand a couple truths about who I was in my youth. One, I was definitely a wildly nonsensical doodler. Two, these doodles often starred the jacked, tights-and-cape alter ego of all of my wildest dreams…Codeman. Codeman was a hero fashioned from Superman but with a ‘C’ gracing the diamond on his chest. He was bold, he was strong, he was everything a man would want to be. He was me.This moniker, of course, did not originate from an unreasonable affection for Cody Lambert, Kickboxer 2 star Sasha Mitchell’s character from the TGIF family sitcom Step by Step. Rather, it originated from my middle name, Cody. The name my mother gave me. To my family and oldest friends, I am Cody. But where is Codeman now? Why does my Facebook now read Ivan Strong Moore? Obviously, this action was a feminist uppercut to societal norms around the barbaric tradition of women changing their names when they marry! It’s not, not that, but it’s more than that. And it all started with our pre-marriage counseling. For those of you who are thinking of getting married, there are few practices that I can recommend more fervently than seeking out pre-marriage counseling. It is not a waste of time during the busy season of wedding planning. I am so thankful for my pastors and mentors that have led me through this process and began pouring wisdom into our marriage way before we said “I do.” One of the first exercises you may do in pre-marriage counseling is something called a family map. This is a storytelling process where you create a family history for your counselor citing family and relationship dynamics that you’ve observed throughout your lives. For me, this was a Picasso of wonderful, beautiful people who have done everything they possibly could to allow love to survive amidst a collection of abuses and tragedies.
Sometimes this exercise is hard. When recounting all of the relationships in your life, the good and the really, really bad, it can make you wonder if you’ll ever be ready for marriage. But then, our pastor let us in on one of the beauties of marriage. After illustrating all of the relational patterns that have existed in our families, he said that this is when we can take all of the things we think are helpful and important that we’ve witnessed in our family, scrap the things we thought were unhelpful or needing a change, and create something new.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24
I think this is why Genesis 2 talks so explicitly about leaving our father and mother. We leave one family to create a new one. Now would be a great time to tell you that I love my wife, and I honestly believe, from an unbiased-objective platform, she is the greatest wife in the history of wives. When we were getting to know each other I was blown away, absolutely floored by how brave and independent she is. The identity of Heather Strong was one that I admire. She is brilliant and compassionate in ways I haven’t yet discovered. This is an identity I never wanted to limit but to help flourish and I knew that would never happen if Heather completely lost her identity to mine. Nor did I want my identity to stay stagnant. God created us to be together and there are parts of who Heather is that I need to adopt in this marriage process. So, if I had anything to do with it, neither of us would completely loose ourselves. Rather, as we created this “something new,” we would be forming a new identity together.To do this I couldn’t let Heather be the only one sacrificing a part of who she is. To do this we both had to create space in our lives, our families, our names for one another to come and adapt into something new. Hence the Strong Moore brand was born. To many Cody is still who I am. In many ways, to myself, Cody is still who I am. But Strong is who we are together. My desire is for people to hear Strong Moore and know that we are in this adventure together. I want people to hear our name and think about Heather’s late brother who was lost instilling even more honor and valor into the Strong name. I want people to hear our name and think about my mom and dad and the man they raised me to be. I want people to hear those two names together and think generosity, compassion, creativity, tenacity, grace, and love. After all, these were the words that came to mind for Heather when she created her Strong family map and what came to mind for me when I narrated the Moore family history. We want our marriage to be a blessing to everyone around us in the ways our families are. What’s in a name? For me, I hope it’s a picture of what our marriage will be.
“Married people, it’s up to you. It’s entirely on your shoulders to keep this sinking institution a float. It’s a stately old ship, and a lot of people, like me, want to get on board. Please be psyched, and convey that psychedness to us. And always remember: so many, many people are envious of what you have. You’re the star at the end of the Shakespearean play, wearing the wreath of flowers in your hair.” – Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?