Names are powerful words. When we name someone or something, we are giving it an identity that is uniquely individual. Names are so powerful, in fact, they have the ability to define the course of an existence. Names define our history, describe our present, and determine our future. Considering the power of a name, I think it is interesting that our names are decided by someone else. We are named. Someone else defines for us the most powerful identity in our lives. How lucky for me that my name means “golden.” Thanks, Mom and Dad!
I think about the creation story. In Genesis and Moses, we read that God created a bunch of stuff, named it all, and said it was good (eloquent summarization, right?) Here’s where I’m going with this: God created life. He named it because it was important. He named stuff because it was necessary that the things He created had meaning. Our parents did the same thing. They created us, and then to signify the importance of their creation, they named us. And it was good.
What would our lives be like if we were able to name ourselves? What name would we pick? Would we be aligned with our ancestors or posterity? What kind of meaning would naming ourselves have for the trajectory of our lives?
This weekend in India, 285 girls were celebrated in a renaming ceremony. These girls named themselves; 285 girls changed their name from “Nakusa,” which means “unwanted” in Hindi, to a name of their choice with happier meanings. In a culture that values the economic and social worth of men, the families of these girls were disappointed at the birth of a daughter. Daughters, wanted or unwanted, require the families to plan for large and expensive dowries paid to the future husband’s family. For these 285 girls, their parents signified the unimportance of their existence with their name.
But this weekend, that changed. The girls chose their names. They chose their identities. They chose the meaning of their future. The girls picked names that reflect their divinity, their strength, and their individual worth.
I think about my name. As a single LadyMo, my first and last name were given to me and therefore, my identity is completely defined in and by my family. I think about my future name, or the last name I will someday take as my own when I am married. I will have the opportunity to choose my spouse, my name, and determine my future. My first name will forever connect me with the family that made me, while my last name will define the family I will create. With future husband, we will name them and it will be good.
Nat Kelly over at FMH does a better job of explaining what I’m trying to say:
But for me, my married name says more than any of that. It is a name that I took upon myself to symbolize the path of my life. It says to the world, “Now these are my people too.” I picked this name through the careful process of picking my spouse, and the decision did change my whole life. I think it is amazing that my name records the course of my life. I chose to align myself with this man, and that act was so important that my very name had to change to reflect it.
So why is this all important? These young Indian women are exercising an eternal truth very early in their lives: God created us in His image and His image is divine (DC 20: 17-18).
17 By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;
18 And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them
These young women are showing their families, their country, and the world (thank you, 24-hour news media) that they are Goddesses and able to create lives – particularly their own. Like Nat said, with the decision to rename themselves, these girls changed their futures and their names will record that new course.
They named themselves and it was good.
So, dear readers, I want to hear from you. What does your name mean? How does your name record the course of your life? Most of you have kids. How did you choose the names for your children? How do their names connect them to your family history?
With so much love,