Last night I was talking with my daughter about the names she is considering for her baby. She had a few picked out, but nothing definite. I encouraged her to look up the meaning of each name before making her decision.
I couldn’t help but think of my own name, how I had never liked it. My middle name was my grandmother’s, a woman I never knew. I am sure I will never understand the meaning it held for my father. But I am grateful that my first name, unlike my sister’s, is at least one that people can pronounce.
Most of us are not given a choice about our name. Our parents choose it for us. But the name we are given is not an accident.
In the Bible, names established relationships, gave insight and understanding or foretold new beginnings. Names not only implied character, they were used to affirm one’s identity and purpose in the world.
A compelling example is the naming of Jesus:
“You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” *
In this one sentence we are told that Jesus is not only the Savior, but that His name was chosen specifically by God.
Names are significant. Words are powerful. The words we use and that others place on us may define us.
A name can be a declaration, a prophecy of who we are, or who we will be.
One early morning not long ago, I was awakened from a sound sleep by jumbled words that would not let me rest:
For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord… Live as children of light…have nothing to do with… darkness… everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible…**
I knew the words, but not why they pursued me.
Longing for sleep, I asked God to show me. In the quiet I heard,
Tell me what your name is….
I already knew my name and I knew its meaning. My name means Blind. End of story.
Still, I did say my name out loud and then something strange happened. I started telling God all my other names. Stupid… Idiot… Fat… Lazy… Cow… Ugly… Retard… Dog… Crazy…
I remembered how when my father was only slightly angry, but not angry enough to hit me he would say, “Who do you think you are, the Queen of Sheba?” But his many names for me sounded much more venomous in Farsi.
I thought they didn’t hurt me anymore. And yet these are the names and words that break our hearts and shape our lives if we believe them.
As dawn broke, I heard God softly say,
Look again. Go deeper. Find the meaning in your real name… the one I chose for you.
So I researched the origin of my name and found it was actually Latin. I went further. I looked up the meaning of my entire name – first, middle and last name and what they meant as a whole.
I laughed out loud when I discovered the truth. It had been right in front of me all this time. It was the same name my parents had given me, but the meaning was profoundly different.
Suddenly I realized how God sees me, how He intended and imagined me before I ever was.
When God spoke my name, He declared me His daughter and announced His purpose for me in the world. And by revealing His name for me, God gave me a new vision for my life.
You see, God showed me that in Latin, my full name literally means, “Of the heavens or heavenly….a queen or empress… light or of the light.” Heavenly Queen of the Light. Now that’s a name only God can give.
Yes. That’s a very big name, a lot to live up to and a complete contradiction to who I grew up believing I was. My parents, I am sure, did not know the weight and the significance of the name they gave me. They did not plan this. But God did.
No, I am not the Queen of Sheba, but God sees me as royalty. And though I have spent most of my life believing the lies spoken over me, I am no longer blinded by darkness, for God has declared His brilliance over my life.
For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord…
Our hearts may be scarred by the words of others, but we can ask God what His name is for us and who He says we are. For it is the name God has given us that matters. It is His name that will define who we are and who we will become.
Know this: There is incredible power in the name of the One who has called you.
Look again. Dig deep. Hidden in your heart He has placed a key that has been lying dormant, one that has always been there but you have forgotten. This key is the Truth of Christ, the power in His name and in what He has already done for you. Take hold of it, and you will remember who He has called you to be. For as Christ lives in your heart, so you carry the Truth.
Unlock the door, and step into the life He has waiting for you.
…lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God… Ephesians 4:1
*Matthew 1:21, NIV