Sunday, November 18, 2007

Naming It

Field Grass


That was the name of the murdered child in Toni Morrison's disturbing novel Beloved. Of course, there's great irony in the name. Is a child, murdered by her mother to save her from enslavement, truly beloved? On the other hand, isn't it a strangely brave act of love to put that child away from worldly danger? These odd, contradictory thoughts come together in the name: Beloved.

In the bible, names are also points of tension, irony, paradox. Gideon is called "mighty warrior" when he is nothing of the sort. Abraham is called "father of a multitude" while he is simply an old man without a son. Mary is hailed "blessed among women" when indeed she will watch her son die upon a tree (cursed, says Deuteronomy 21:23, is the man hung on a tree).

We each have names. Family names. God-given names. Maybe we are living in our names and they are making sense, or maybe there is tension, irony, and paradox.

What's your name and how is it feeling today?

Leaning Field Grass photo by J Barkat. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


LL's latest talk Beloved Child

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Blogger Lifelong Learner said...

I love the meanings of names. Each of my children know the meanings of theirs. I think it gives a glimpse into how God intends to work with them, because the name was given before their personality was known. Industrious, honors God, Christ-bearer and gift of God. There's a lot to work with in there. :)

8:26 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I don't know what to think of names and their significance. Sometimes they mean something in Scripture, and sometimes apparently not.

My name Ted comes from Theodore which is from the Greek: Theos dora- as I remember, meaning "gift of God" or something of the like.

I know more and more that all of life and everything about us is a gift from God, nothing we can boast of in ourselves.

But I don't think my life has lived up to its name, though I am amazed when I see it seem to do so for others, to any extent at all.

But then, anything and everything created is good somehow, fitting, and a gift from God.

What does your name mean if you're willing to reveal that on your blog? :)

9:24 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I like my name, and my middle name Michael, as well which comes from the Hebrew transliterated, mic meaning like, and el meaning God: like God. Again what a wonder that in Jesus God moves us to become more and more like himself.

9:26 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

Like Stacy, I love the meanings of names. My given name Kirsten is a Scandinavian rendering of "Christian"; my middle name Michelle, "who is like God". I prefer to think these are names whose fullness I might aspire to grow into.

I remember once asking God what He thought of me, what He called me. He called me Lovely One even though I felt like a gutter-snipe. Irony & paradox indeed. Maybe He saw what I hope to grow into.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I struggle with wanting to name myself Mara at times.
But I don't want to be Mara.
Heather is a plant. It flowers in different seasons. It hides in others. It works its roots into the soil to pull out the rich nourishment. It turns its face toward the son. It gives joy and beauty.
That's who I really want to be.

3:56 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Stacy... Yes, a lot to work with! My children know the meaning of theirs too. In fact, we use their names to gently guide them into a vision of who they might aspire to be. Princess of Giving. And Wisdom leading to Joy.

Ted... so, it's something to reach for, yes? I love the meaning of your name. And I will answer your question, but I realize it will take a post of its own. [coming soon...]

Kirsten... a Christian who is like God. Indeed, there are some who are not. So this is a good name to grow towards, inside.

Heather... why "bitter"? Curious. And I love the idea of Heather blossoming, hiding, facing the sun, enriching and being enriched. Of course, I picture the fields in all those classic English novels. Heather. A fine, fine name to live with.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

In June of '06, I gathered my children and laying my hands on each one, pronounced a blessing over them individually. For each one, the specific words of the blessing centered on the meaning of their name. I wouldn't mind it at all if my dad did the same for me.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

My names were all chosen carefully. When my parents found they were expecting me, they cataloged the names they liked, considering the possible schoolyard nicknames, studying meanings and choosing verses that fit the meanings. As it happens, they thought I was a boy, so "Matthew" (gift of the Lord) didn't stick, and my most treasured baby blanket is all blue, save the pink border added later.

My parents had to go with the Plan B name, which I imagine had been my name all along from the perspective of my heavenly Father. Nicole is derived from Greek and Elise from Hebrew. Together, they mean "Victory, consecrated to God." With the names came a verse, 1 John 5:4. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith."

When I became and Orthodox Christian I had a chance to take another name for myself, and I chose the name of a philosopher-martyr named Katherine, whose name is derived from the Greek word for purity.

I've always found the care that went into my naming to be a marvelous gift and something of a challenge: I was consecrated to God from birth, but now it is up to me, by His grace, to live victoriously and purely. My task might have been a bit easier had I been named Dolores...

1:06 AM  
Blogger Lynet said...

I'll give you my middle name: 'Ellen' for 'light'. It's also my mother's middle name and my grandmother's middle name, which is nice.

To be honest, I don't precisely like my real (first) name, because a name is an identity and my own identity feels murky at the moment. The name I dragged -- but, no, it was not so dreary then -- carried creatively through childhood has so many pieces of who I was on it that it's as if there's no more room to build the person I am. Still, it's my real-life 'handle', and it functions just fine for that much.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

My middle name is "Duane"--which today means "relaxed" and "thankful" and "headed to the Canyon where there are no TVs, no Internet, no cell phone access, and plenty of time for family."

Happy Thanksgiving to you, L.L., and J.L. and the rest too.

3:07 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... that sounds like a beautiful ritual, one they'll remember (fondly, I hope).

Nikki... I like these... names with vision and inspiration.

Lynet... light. And aren't you just a person always searching for it? I wonder why your identity is murky right now, why you seem to feel caught in a name that won't budge for you. [Note to other readers: "Lynet" is not Lynet's actual name.]

Marcus... so you have one of those convenient flexinames? (Or does Duane really have different meanings which you can take on at will?) Have a great holiday in the Canyon, cowboy. (Um, sorry, it just seemed like the thing to say.)

3:43 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

The first part (rathi)of my middle name means beauty in my native language. I don't know what my first name means:( But it has a cool story associated with it. When my parents (in Sri Lanka) were trying to come up with a name, they asked my aunt in London to come up with one as well. Then they decided on the name, and when my aunt got back to them sometime later, it was with the same name!!

3:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nancy means grace
marie (form of mary) means bitter
davis...was my last name and is now a middle name...means David's son

i would like to get rid of the marie...i do not like the meaning of bitter...oooh. but, there are times when i am...and my mother held on to bitterness for things that had happened to her as a child. i felt sorry for her on that, but it made it hard to be with her because of her negativeness, fear and control over others that went along with it. so i guess, that i have live with that in me from what i learned from my mother. but through God's grace i am being set free from it.

i find it interesting and wonderful that God has a name for each of us and that we will know it.

11:09 AM  

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