What’s in a name…

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.”  -William Shakespeare

As parents, we know the joy and privilege of naming our children. I remember looking through baby books to find just the right names. Derek was such a strong name, meaning “people-ruler”. It’s always amazed me that Derek exemplifies that trait. The name Michael means “who is like God?” St. Michael, the archangel, is the patron saint of soldiers. What an appropriate name for our Derek Michael!

Jim’s father’s name was Norman, so we knew we wanted that for a middle name when our second child came. Again, we looked through baby books and settled on the name Craig. Craig means “rock” and that is our Craig. He has such a quiet, inner strength that I’ve always admired.

Every culture has its own method of naming it’s children. Some do so as soon as the child is born, and others do so days later during special ceremonies. Some children are named for family members while others are named for circumstances surrounding their birth.

How ever the child is named, other names or nicknames are often added or changed throughout his/her life. I was born Sonia Kaye True. I was called Sonia by my mother, Kaytee by my father, Sonia Kaye by relatives, Aunt Kaye by some nieces and nephew, while others call me Aunt Sonia. When I married Jim, my name became Sonia Kaye Keepes and when Derek and Craig came along I added the name Momma. And now, my most recent variation, Granny Kaye to David and Jackson.

Our names are an important part of us. They are often the first thing we know about someone and it identifies us to the world. If anyone has ever had their identity stolen, they can attest to the deep feelings of violation it can cause.

I recently had a conversation with one of the Deacon Aspirant wives, Vicky. Vicky’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease within the last year. Vicky was telling me the story of going to visit her mother at the nursing home one day and finding her standing in the commons area, clutching a name card. Vicky asked her mother if she knew what the card said. Her mother looked at it and read her own name. But what struck Vicky was the way her mother held so tightly to the card, as if, were it taken from her, she would no longer know who she was.

This reminded me of my great grandmother, Mom Shahan. I visited her shortly before her death and she was suffering from dementia and didn’t know who I was. During my visit, she reached out and stroked my hair and said, “Kaytee, do you remember when I used to braid your hair and put it up on top of your head, the way I wore my hair?” For a minute, she knew who I was…what an incredible gift that was. One that I will always cherish.

In the Bible, God told Jacob, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” In the Bible, God changes people’s names, it indicates that something new has happened or will happen to that person. Often its due to a covenant between the person and God. Jesus told Simon (his birth name), “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will now overcome it.”

No matter what name I’m called, I take great comfort in the fact that God knows my name. That the one that counts the stars and knows them by name, knows me so intimately and calls me by name.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you…”– Jeremiah 1:5


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