What’s in a Name?

Courtesy of photobucket.com

By this time in the pregnancy we usually have a name.

This is our fourth child and we’re having a hard time deciding what to call him. Baby boy? Number 4? Axel?

There’s a lot of names that we have found that sound nice…but none of them have that neon sign flashing over it saying, “Winner.”

I’ve always had a hard time with naming things. Names are so permanent. When I was younger, it was so hard for me to stick to one name for a new pet or stuffed animal. I remember I got a cat in high school and I ended up just calling it Kitty because I couldn’t choose a suitable name for it.

I have this same problem with applying names to myself.

Friend. Woman. Leader. Writer.

It’s one thing to hear someone else call you a name, it’s another to attribute it to yourself.

When I was in 7th grade I befriended the new girl at our small, Christian school. A month later, we were asked by a classmate if we were best friends. I panicked. I didn’t want to be the first one to clarify our relationship. It terrified me to step out and say, “Yes, she’s my best friend.” What if she didn’t feel the same way?

I got married at 20-years-old. I still felt, in many ways, like a child. I recognized my youth and inexperience; I was acutely aware of it! When “women’s” events would be announced at church I felt hesitant about counting myself in. I wasn’t a woman, I was a girl.

A few years into marriage we stepped into our first ministry position. The transition between the old and new leadership left me wondering if we were really the leaders. I felt awkward about telling people we were the college pastors. I hadn’t earned that title and no one had specifically called us that.

Writer…that one’s the scariest for me because it’s the newest. I’ve gotten used to the idea of myself as a friend, woman and leader. Although I still have problems with initiating the name of friend or leader, I now recognize my potential to be seen as that. But a writer? I enjoy writing. I am a blogger (that’s different, to me). I have no training. I have minimal experience. There are so many better than me.

So the question that plagues me is: Who determines our names?

Throughout the Bible there are instances of God changing people’s names: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Judah to Israel. These are just the big ones. God also has a say in the naming of children before they’re born: IshmaelJohn the Baptist, and Jesus, to name a few.

Nowadays there are so many resources for parents in naming their children: websites, books, quizzes, and more. It can get overwhelming! The comfort for me comes in remembering that God knows who this child inside of me is. He has a name for him and it’s up to my husband and I to hear from God regarding who he is.

The same goes with my “names.” When I see that God has strategically placed me in a position to be a friend to someone, it’s easier for me to call myself Friend. When I recognize the unique gifts that God has bestowed on me, the name Woman sits lightly upon my shoulders. If God is the one who has called me to step forth in a ministry, I no longer hesitate at the word Leader. Still the name Writer stumbles out of my mouth…it’s a baby dream, one I’m still growing inside. It’s only through the confidence that God has planted this dream in me that I am able to utter it now.

Hopefully soon He’ll also give us the name of Baby Boy “Axel” #4 so we can begin to get to know him better.

What about you? Do you have any names that God has given you that you have been hesitant to step out in? Or, has someone else given you a name that you have seen God change through His lovingkindness and grace? I’d love to hear about it!

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7 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Melissa, thanks for sharing the My Utmost For His Highest feed with me. I’m not sure I’ve ever put such well written words (yes, you clearly are a writer) to the idea of names. I think I, for one, shy away from what I am afraid are “labels.” I’m afraid of being trapped in a box, I think. But what you’re writing about not being sure you “have earned” a name also resonates with me. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying about my identity and realizing that, as usual, I’m looking for it the wrong way. What a refreshing and peace-bestowing thought to remember that it is God who names me, and when He gives me a name, it is for a reason. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Beth! It really is much more freeing to think that we don’t have to figure out who we are or what we’re doing…it’s all in God’s hands and it’s just up to us to listen to Him.

  2. I’m enjoying catching up on your blog posts today! “Writer” is a name that suits you well!
    What you said is so true! Recognizing that God names us and equips us is so freeing!

    When I recieved the name “mother” it was hard for me to embrace it. I became a mother over night when a precious little boy came into our lives very suddenly and the journey of his adoption began. My son had nothing to do with my inability to embrace this new role. He was perfect! I had longed to be a mother my whole life, but my own insecurities, my own silly need to control my life (this was not MY “Plan A”), as well as judgments from others kept me from truly enjoying this new name that God had given me! Once I started trusting God’s “Plan A” for my life, I started to believe in myself as a mother. 4 years later I am the MOTHER of 3 beautiful children. As an adoptive parent, the title or name of “mother” is often challenged by the outside world. I won’t even go into the dumb and hurtful things that people say to me and to my children. It has taken me some time to realize that none of it matters because “the world” cannot always understand the kind of love that is possible through the miracle of adoption! Part of embracing the names that God gives us is not letting others steal the Joy that these names bring! I loved reading your post because it was so good to be reminded that God gave me this name. HE knit my family together so perfectly and being a mother is everything I dreamed it would be!

    1. Oh, Dana. Now you’ve gone and made me cry. You know how hard that is. I love you and although it wasn’t your plan A, you have a beautiful family and God definitely made you a mother.

      1. God’s Plan A was way better than mine anyways! :) Love ya!! (and now we are even..your blog has made me cry several times!)

  3. Hi Melissa,
    I’m new to your blog from the Lady Bloggers Society Tea Party. I love the format of your blog and the images and fonts are beautiful. Thank you for your insightful reflections on a variety of topics. It is significant while not too heavy.
    Ali :)

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