08 October, 2009

Namesake

I think it's true that we become what our names signify. Yet, I think we have lost the importance of naming our children.

In the Bible when a child was named it had deep significance. It was a reflection of the circumstances surrounding the birth or a blessing for what the child would become.

In some countries children are not given names until they are five. This is more connected to infant/child mortality rates than other things, but there are words in their language for first born, second born, etc. At five the child is given another name, one that fits who they are and what the parents hope they will become. In India children must be taken to their grandparents to receive their name. Again, I don't know all the significance here, but the family and grandparents want to spend time with the child before deciding what it's name should be. There is another culture that does the same thing. The child is named after birth - not like the birth certificate is filled out after birth - but the parents don't name their child until they have spent time with it and can see its personality and get a feel for who he/she is.


I think there is wisdom in that. There is wisdom is thinking about your kids name not in relation to how it sounds, but what it will mean for the child and their life.


Nowadays we name our children by what sounds pretty or a name both parents can agree on or to keep a theme going. There are very few parents who don't go to the hospital with a name in mind. Part of that has to do with being prepared, in our culture it is unacceptable to say you haven't thought about a name or are waiting to meet your child before deciding (and you can't take the kid home without filling out the birth certificate in the 48 hours you are at the hospital...). But picking out a name because it sounds pretty and placing a precursor over the child's life are two different things. 


My name means fit to be loved or lovable. But I have never felt that my name fit who I am, not that I'm not lovable, but that it doesn't suit the deeper reaches of who I am. I always thought someone else was being called when someone said my name. Furthermore, when I asked my parents why they chose it they couldn't remember where it had come from.


So what is the significance if you name your child after a grandparent, best friend, etc? I am not saying that kids are bound by what their name is, but I do think it can play a role in who they become. Our names, with their definitions and family histories attached, are the most commonly used word to describe a person. So every time someone says my name they are really saying, "lovable." Am I lovable? At the start of my time here i would say no. I think I am defensive or cruel or aloof - but not lovable. But God is incredible and has been alive to me in new and great ways. I am excited to see what comes with the last few days I have.


Maybe I will become my namesake after all :-)

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