Your Name Is Your Legacy – (Herm Edwards)
Names fascinate me. Everybody has one. We use them every single day, yet people hardly ever take the time to talk about the importance of a name. Some people have more than one, some even have symbols, but most people generally have a first name and a last name, and it took me my whole life to figure out they both work together. Let’s start with the first name…I always wondered where my first name came from when I was growing up. I wondered why my mother had named me Adrian of all names in the world. I had never met anybody with my first name and once I did they were usually girls…and I also got a lot of references from the Rocky movies. But it turns out my mother named me Adrian after her favorite preacher Adrian Rogers, who was a well known preacher from Florida. He preached a majority of his life in Memphis, TN and was also founder of a radio and television ministry called Love Worth Finding. After finding this out as a kid I used to pray that God would make me anything but a preacher…I was terrified of it and thought that’s what I was supposed to become! But now I absolutely love my mother for it, not because I am not a preacher as my profession, but simply because she named me after a man who wanted nothing more than people to truly seek after God, experience His love, and to share it with others… And my last name comes from my dad…and I didn’t truly realize the importance of this part of my name until just a few years ago…
(One thing to keep in mind during this journey, not all of my stories will be about a bad period in my life so in no way do I tell these to glorify a lifestyle that was so routine for me at the time. I want these to be helpful in any way possible.)
One night I was out doing my usual routine…my routine at this time in my life was being very social. I worked as a local bartender in town and I just so happened to have the night off. I could never stay in one place if I was going out on the town, I always liked to kind of move around so I decided to go visit one of my favorite upstairs bars downtown Oxford, MS. And honestly on this night I was actually trying to avoid anybody that I knew I shouldn’t be around (most of us have those friends, the ones that we love to death but we know that we instantly become weak around them). So bottom line I think I just wanted to escape that night…Little did I know that trying to run from the trouble would lead me straight to the truth. I walk in the bar, find a seat, and start to look around and I immediately spot this girl…and she was very pretty. I had no idea who she was, I knew I was single at the time, I was by myself, and thought hey this perfect, I can meet her, take my mind off everything I was getting caught up in and just escape for a normal night. I knew I probably had no shot at really talking to her and I didn’t even know her name but I knew I wasn’t leaving there until I at least tried. So I quickly order something, and not wanting anyone else to talk to her before I did, I walk right up to her…(and let me back up real quick, back then I had a lot less fear than I do now, I can be confident but back then there were things that helped me with that, things that I let control me that took away all my fear, that would later hurt me). So on this night I was feeling that confidence and I walked up to her and offered to buy a her a drink and she very quickly hit me with the awful question of “Why?” It was just the way she said it…so sort of taken back from this I told her I would get her a water if that offended her but that I really just wanted to meet her and get to know her…and I remember she stopped me in the middle of talking and said “Hey I’m sorry but I’m just not interested…” Immediately, feeling like I was supposed to be in control and all of a sudden losing it, I had to know her reason so as she’s turning to leave I just said something like “Hey look I’m sorry I really don’t want to bother you, and I won’t, but did I do something wrong here? Or are you with somebody?” And I can still remember the look she gave me, it was terrible…it was like that confused frown look (it was the “I feel sorry for you” look) like I should know her answer already…and she looked at me straight in my eyes and said, “Look…Adrian Dickey. I know who you are, I know who you hang out with, and I know what you do…and I’m just not interested. Have a good night.”
Well what she said to me that night has never left my memory…and it was well said. There was no slick recovery pick up lines, there was no “hey wait let me just explain” moment, I knew it and she knew it. She did the right thing and she walked away. I remember sitting back down in my seat at the short end of that “L” shaped bar and I didn’t say a word to anyone the rest of the night. I don’t even think I drank any of my drink…I think I just sat there the whole night. I was upset because I had just discovered for the first time that other people were actually seeing the definition of myself that I didn’t want them to see. She knew my first and last name and had in her mind what that name meant without ever officially meeting me! And that definition was not something I wanted to tell anyone about…and was it that obvious I thought? I was disgusted with this empty feeling, it was a feeling I had over the years and that night I was finally called out. My mother didn’t raise me that way I can promise you…and my father didn’t raise me to be a bad example for other people but I had become that…people were watching me and taking notice. My mother raised me with love and taught me to live a life of love and wanted me to be a light in the darkness. She gave me the name of a righteous man. She didn’t just want to give me a random name that started with the same letter as another sibling, no she wanted me to stand for something, she named me after a true man of God…and my dad…he gave me a good last name…something I was just now realizing its importance. I had lost sight of what my parents had taught me, I was making blind decisions, and I was chipping away at a strong legacy I had been given. I remember sitting there all night until the bar closed, silent…
What is your name? And what does it mean, is it important? What does your life tell others about yourself? Do you want to be redefined? Is it possible? And what is your legacy going to be? Is there a way we can live that will help others choose a better life? What about an everlasting life? Think of it like a “5 second rule.” When someone hears your name spoken what do they think about in the first 5 seconds? Is it something good or something bad? I want you to really just stop right now and think about that…and if you have to think about it for too long like I did that night then you may need to start thinking about making some positive changes in your life…and yes, it is certainly possible.
Herm Edwards is a famous pro football analyst, an ex-NFL head coach, an inspirational speaker, and someone I look up to very much. He’s one of those people that I would just love to sit down with and have an hour conversation about life. Recently around new years he gave this screaming pep talk, which you can find online if you search for it, but he was talking to the high school All-American football team about the choices they make and how it can affect everything and everyone around them. This was in response to some bad decisions that had been made recently by some college football players before their end of the year bowl games. He screamed at these high school players, “Don’t be that guy! That name on the back of your jersey belongs to your parents! And you don’t screw it up! Because it don’t belong to you!” He was referencing a story from something his father had told him growing up. When Herm Edwards was little his father told him, “Son…we don’t live in a big house…we can’t afford a new car…but I’m gonna give you something better than all of that stuff…I’m gonna give you a good last name. Your name is your legacy…and don’t you screw it up!”
(At the end of this post I have a link called “5 Minutes About Your Legacy” where Herm Edwards talks about this story. If you have 5 minutes today I promise it is very much worth the time.)
My mom gave me a good first name…my dad gave me a great last name…and for about 6 years of my life I screwed them up. I was blinded by everything that I let surround me, I was saying yes to things that had “NO” written all over them, I was with people that I knew I wasn’t strong enough to be around, and I was battling what I thought was a winless fight against addiction. I was lost. And when you are lost you start losing things… I believe you can lose a lot of things in your life…maybe its hope, friends, a job, your house, a relationship, etc…but the one thing you can’t lose is your name. So make sure you protect it. I lost part of my name by making some foolish choices in a town just 55 miles from where I was given my good name. Still my parents always encouraged me no matter what and that is something I will forever be thankful for. Bottom line was my life choices were weighing on me, everything was starting to take its toll and people were starting to take notice…My parents had given me something great…and I had damaged it…and that’s something I have to live with now. Can it be fixed? Can people change? Yes, absolutely! But it’s not easy. It’s very hard. It takes a lot of hard work…I’m still working on it. My brother and sister, they kept a good name and are leaving good legacies for their children and it just broke my heart because they are on my team and I knew I had let them down…
Your name will make an impact on people, whether you choose to believe that or not, it is the truth. Your name will have an impact. Sometimes I think the only true and accurate definition of our names will come on the day of our funeral on a small piece of stone. And since tomorrow is not promised to us, is it going to be worth it to hear the things that are said about us?
I knew personally that I was in need of something. I was tired of running, I really was, but I was just scared. I couldn’t talk about it to my friends at that time because I didn’t know how and we were all running in the same direction. But I knew what I wanted, I knew deep down I truly wanted to be redefined…I wanted out of my “routine” and now I am forever grateful for situations like that night at the bar and the words she spoke to me. I am grateful for the help of my family. I am thankful for my mentors that never gave up on me. I had been so far away from my faith, so far from the people who loved me that I was scared to surrender my control to anyone. I am not here to make up your mind about your definition, that’s not my choice…but all I want you to do is simply think about it. I want you to not only think about your legacy but also how you can have an everlasting name. I have experienced God’s true grace…He had never forgotten my name. He had always been there guiding me, whether or not I listened He was always there and has always loved me. I believe the same is true for you…and I promise you I used to laugh at people in the face who told me things like this. I would laugh. They would tell me what I am about to tell you now and that is “I don’t think its ever too late.” Mistakes happen everyday in life. We are all imperfect humans. And yes you are right, nobody likes to make them. But mistakes are just mistakes, they are not the things that make us who we truly are… so don’t let them define you! You don’t have to remain blind like I did…you can fix your name, redefine yourself, let people see your light, live a life of love, and you can learn to love yourself again…and in doing so I hope you learn to love others in the same way.
I truly hope this can be helpful to you…because I just wish someone had talked me to about this years ago…I want you to look forward to the “5 second rule”, and not be afraid of it, but excited about it! And lastly I just want to encourage you to live right everyday. Try to be a good example and help others. Live a good name…and leave a good legacy. And always remember that God will never abandon you. He will GUIDE you, He will be your LIGHT, and He wants to freely give you an everlasting name. God is always with us because God = LOVE. Nothing is impossible…
16 “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
Watch, listen, and share what happens when you decide to live the next 10 days in love.
(Feature post photo by Luke Pamer)
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