What is in a name?

Someone always says it better than I can

I started reading a book called “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches”  by Russell D. Moore. On a note unrelated to what I’m posting about, I highly recommend this book!  Not only is it great perspective and Godly insight for adoptive families, it is an incredible book that explains our adoption, as believers, into God’s kingdom.  It also speaks volumes to the body of Christ, in general.  The author says, “In this book I want to call us all to consider how encouraging adoption–whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt–can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity….of our congregations.”  Amen!

In this book, the author talks about giving his Russian adopted children new names.  He explains, contrary to what a lot of adoption sources recommend, the good in renaming his children once they came into his family.  He uses countless Biblical examples of how God renamed people….Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter, and Saul became Paul.  God gave people new names when He gave them new identities–identities that were wrapped up in Him.

Growing into a name

The author specifically mentioned Peter, whose name means, “The Rock.”  If we read a lot of the stories of Peter in the gospels, he hardly seems like “a rock.”  Instead, he flounders in his faith and begins to sink in the ocean, he denied Christ after vehemently swearing he wouldn’t, etc.  Little did anyone know (except Christ) that Peter would become the rock, the foundation, of God’s church.  Sometimes we grow into the name we are given.

Naming my children

Like any expectant parents pregnant with a child, my husband and I spent months considering names for our children.  During both pregnancies, we found out we were expecting girls, so even though we had “back-up”  boy names, we primarily focused on female names.  We used factors to judge names that a lot of parents use: popularity (we wanted an uncommon name), how it sounded with our last name (having a long Polish name, you can imagine some thought went into this factor), whether or not we had any negative associations with the name, whether or not it was “cute” and yet “sturdy” (perfect for a baby and yet appropriate for a young woman), and of course whether or not anyone could taunt our child with her name (Apple, Florence, etc).  After sorting through countless names this way, it all came down to one factor for me–what the name meant.  For reasons I couldn’t explain at the time, it was really important for me to give my daughter a name that had a good meaning.   My first-born’s name means “Favor or Grace of God.”  My second-born’s name means “Wisdom” and her middle name means “Of God”.  I prayed these identities for my daughters while still pregnant with them.

Ironically, I can’t say I see these identities in my daughters right now.  To be honest, there have been moments where I think I must have given them the wrong names because their character can seem so opposite of what their names mean!  My oldest daughter is incredibly clumsy and sassy and spunky.  There are days when I beg for God’s favor or grace to rest upon her (hence, on me!).  My youngest daughter, still only 2, is a complete goof-ball and sometimes a bit hard-headed.  Certainly not the child I would imagine to be considered wise.

Now of course it is absurd to be looking for these qualities in such young children, but in all honesty, I may not see those little identities form until they are well into adulthood.  I look at Peter and how Christ gave him a name that Simon (and others) perhaps could not understand or imagine to be indicative of his identity.  My prayer continues to be that my daughters will grow into the women of character that I named them for and that God intended them to be.

P.S.  My name means “princess”…..hmmm…fitting?  Whether good or bad, don’t bother commenting on that….ha, ha.  It is the name that God gives Sarai after He promises her a child.  I like being a woman of God’s promise!  Do you know what your name means?

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5 thoughts on “What is in a name?

  1. I love name meanings as well.. Brighton’s means the one who is loved and his middle names means The lord is my God!

    Though the name we have picked out for our next boy means fruitful, fertile! :0

  2. Well, from one princess to another, I love the meanings of names too! That is why we gave 3 of our 5 childdren, 3 names each. Funny but true. Princess Sarah, thank you for your words filld with much thought. I love to blessed enough to be part of your thought life.

  3. Hi Sarah!
    I think I should get the book you recommended and read it!

    I have always believe the meaning of a name is very important and and even though you may wonder how the meaning of your girls names fits them right now, remember God is made perfect in our weakness.:)
    Barb

  4. Mine means Pure One….which I like to think has something to do with my love for PIER one! =) haha

    it also means honey bee…which I guess means worker bee…busy? productive? I don’t know..but am wondering why it doesn’t meant QUEEN bee =) haha

    I LOVE names…but sadly, my Tucker only means “tucker of cloth (like a tailor)” But as I watch him grow I think its b.c no meaning could be given to such a child as him =)

    Ella means elfin fairy child, bright one
    Tate means long winded talker and cheerful
    Trigg means courageous (I think)
    and I can’t remember what Tad means! how is that??
    William means great protector

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