A Letter from ‘Til I Want No More’s Maxine Owens

February 24, 2021


Christy Award-winning author Robin W. Pearson on her new Southern fiction novel 'Til I Want No More

In ‘Til I Want No More by Robin W. Pearson, Maxine Owens is a columnist whose writes about her life, including wedding details as she plans to marry her fiancé Theodore Charles. In the letter below, courtesy of Robin W. Pearson, hear from Maxine about what she hopes you’ll take away from her story in ‘Til I Want No More

According to my mother, Daddy used to call me Jezebel when I was little. She says it’s because I used to change my clothes three or four times a day. Once I got old enough to read the Bible for myself, I wanted no part of that name. Jezebel was a queen and all, but her husband was the evil King Ahab, and eventually she got thrown out a window and torn asunder by dogs. Dogs. And nowhere did I read she was a fashionista. It’s too bad my father didn’t live long enough for us to share a cup of chai and a word or two about his Bible application. I mean, couldn’t he have called me the queen of Sheba? That’s a title I could get behind.

Just what’s in a name? To tell you the truth, quite a lot.

A close friend once told me that Maxine, the name my mother gave me, means “greatest.” I never quite believed him; if anything, I’d always felt less than or not enough—certainly not more. Perhaps that’s why I embraced Maxie, a shortened version that some of my closest friends adopted. Strangely enough, when I heard it spoken, I felt larger than life. Like I belonged. It singled me out yet gave me something—someone—to cling to. For a while anyway. Then came the time for me to set aside that name. “Maxie” went the way of those long-ago costume changes and baby dolls . . . at least temporarily.

Because as y’all know, labels stick in some form or another. Isn’t that their purpose?

If you try to peel them off yourself, those labels can leave residue, memories, bits and pieces that point to who you think you are or who you thought you were, what you’ve done or what you became. Many names have stubbornly adhered to me, despite all my efforts—just like Maxie and yes, even Jezebel. Some show what I’ve called myself: runaway, worrier, rebel, castoff, sinner. Others identify what other people call me: writer, daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend.

Yet as informative as they seem, they don’t tell the whole story. Not the name belonging to my daddy, who died when we were both too young. Not the surname I added once my stepfather adopted me, the one that signifies lifelong connectivity. Not even the name universally regarded as a calling and an honor, the right to which I signed away so many years ago.

No, none of them tell my story. That, only its Author can do. God alone, the name above all names. He made Himself the hero who saves—not just the day, but me. His redeemed, a name that means the world to me.

Day by day, the Lord reveals that my life’s story takes time, twists, and turns as it unfolds. Most importantly, He’s showing me I’m not its villain. What about you? Are you just as weary from living under an alias? In my case, it took some (un)doing, but He’ll help you see that mistakes don’t define us, and neither does who we marry, the burden we’ve carried, or the not-so-ancient history we’ve tried to bury. I’d hoped changing my clothes and my signature would transform me into a new person. Someone I could be proud of, even love. But God already knew who I was. And He loves me just the way He designed me, past and present.

So those names I used to call myself? The fear of discovery I’d gnawed on for years? I had to throw that all to the dogs. Perhaps my daddy had the right idea after all, even if his name-calling could use some work.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.”
Isaiah 43:1

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