Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What's In A Name?

As I make my journey through this (my 4th) pregnancy, I am going back and forth with the names that we have picked out. We wanted to stick with Italian names for the girls, and Irish names for the boys. But the name I have picked out for a girl isn't Italian, though the middle name is (which at first I didn't know). And I am wondering if it matters. I have also taken into consideration, thanks to my sister, that none of these names are saints' names. But does that matter either? And at some point, will my children decide they don't like their names or want to go by their middle name instead of their first? Or a nick-name instead of their given name? Names are important in that they are a major part of our identity - they are one of the first things we learn of ourselves as our mothers and fathers attempt to get our attention as babies, as others come into our lives, as we grow and learn the importance of knowing someone's name as a major part in identifying who they are. But how important is a name, really, and does it actually identify who we are?

Since I've been an adult, I have had the issue of whether or not I should go by Rebecca or Becky. Usually, when I introduce myself to new people, I am Rebecca. It sounds more grown-up and professional and though it seems a bit strange to me for my personality, being known as Rebecca does in fact make me feel more grown up. But as I get to know people, somehow I feel more comfortable allowing them to call me Becky; or often, they are the ones who feel more comfortable. It is more intimate in some ways, to call someone by their nick-name.

When I met my friend, Lisa, almost 2 years ago, I introduced myself as Rebecca. We were meeting on a professional basis and I felt it more appropriate to use my given name as opposed to my nick-name. But as we became friends, she started calling me Becky and I had no issue with that. For me personally, I'd like to be called whatever people feel more comfortable calling me. But does this give me two different identities and is it too confusing? Now, wherever Lisa and I are together, if this issue comes up with others - with what name I go by - it's usually brought up by her. I am perfectly happy going by Rebecca if that's what people know me as or are introduced to me as, but it's always some sort of fluster for a having to make a decision about what people should call me, etc. And sometimes I feel like maybe it's a character flaw of my own that I am so wishy-washy with what I want. But really, it's not that I don't want to make a decision - I just don't care either way.

My name, Rebecca Ellen, means "captivating light." When I was searching for baby names for each of my last 3 pregnancies, I made it a point to look up what they mean. Angelina means "angel" or "angelic." Aidan means "fiery." Isabella means "consecrated to God." But do most people pick names for their babies based on meaning alone? If so, why would anyone want to name their child something that doesn't have a positive meaning, or one that doesn't make sense? (Such as Phyllis which means "leafy bough" or Tristan which means "tumult") Recently, I had a discussion with two friends about what each of our names mean. My friend Connie remarked that our name-meanings fit us exactly. I wasn't so sure if this were true for me and mine but I thought it was interesting - the idea that maybe sometimes our names are not just randomly picked but placed on our parents' minds by God Himself, in accordance to what His plans are for us. Can I one day be a captivating light? Maybe, based on this idea alone, our names are far more important than anything I could ever dream of, especially when identifying who we are as His children.


Anonymous said...

hmm, are you sure about the Irish thing? I didn't think we really had any dominant ethnic background, except maybe czech or dutch. But, if you ask me, I don't think your children's names need to match or be themed. You should pick the names that are on your heart.

Anonymous said...

I think every parent struggles with this. There are plenty of names that I like but I just couldn't imagine naming my children...such as Sierra. I have always liked that name but not for me. But then I LOVE the name Mallory (especially for a red head) but it means 'bad omen' or 'unfortunate'. So becuase of that meaning I didn't dare use that name. But Mallory...Madelyn...close enough. Oh, and don't forget the Mallory on 'Family Ties'....


Janine said...

Jesus said we are the light to the world. You are writing about God...spreading the light that is within you. Sounds like you are fulfilling your name!

May name means "gift of God". I guess my parents were happy to get a girl after having 4 boys! But, really, every baby is a gift from God, so I guess we could all be called by my name.