Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's in a name?

"That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  - Juliet Capulet

While it's true that names are somewhat arbitrary, they do have meaning.  The Bible is full of people who changed their names to describe new life circumstances, new perspectives, and any number of other things.  Naomi, in the book of Ruth, returns to her homeland with her daughter-in-law following the death of her husband and two sons.  She announces to her former friends and relatives that her new name will be Mara, which means "bitter" because God has taken everything from her.

I'm not someone who has ever given too much credit to the meanings of names.  One day, though, I got on a hot streak and looked into the meaning of all my children's names.  It was surprising to say the least.  These were names we chose without giving a single thought to the meaning of them.  And yet each name says something amazing about that child.

I was 19 when I had Rebekka Marie.  Her name means "tied to bitterness."  Not exactly a flattering sentiment and yet her birth was tied to a great deal of bitterness.  Her adoptive parents changed her name to Stephanie Nicole, which means "crowning victory of the people."  Certainly a much more uplifting name and again very fitting.  What, for me, was bitterness was victory for the family that longed to have more children and achieved that by adopting her into their family.

Not quite two years later life had changed significantly for me.  I had met the man I planned to spend the rest of my life with and together we created Mindie R'nea.  Her name means "beautiful rebirth" or "beauty reborn."  She marked a turning point in my life, a rebirth if you will.

Not quite two years after that we had a second child together.  Shannen Makayla means "God is gracious; who is like God?"  God was gracious.  I wasn't supposed to have Shannen at all and came close to dying while giving birth to her.  Who is like God?  In some ways, Shannen is.  Obviously she's not *like* God but through her amazing heart for God and all of God's creation, she has revealed to me some incredibly important truths about my Creator.  Truly, Shannen is one of the few people I know that I feel embodies naturally what it is to live for God and through His son.

That which we call a rose, by any other name, might still smell as sweet but it's funny sometimes how well a name fits a person.

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