Why is a name significant?
What is in a Name?
What is in a Name?
Names have always been of great fascination to me. As a young child, I was engrossed in the fact that almost all names mean something. As I grew, I began mentally collecting name meanings to the point that it has been a slight obsession of mine.
We all have met people that had names that sound, perhaps a little different than their parents expected. There was the friend in College who was Erin Ann Moran. And of course. she married into the Span family. The name Erin Ann Moran Span has provided no end of enjoyment for me. I just can not stop saying it once I get started.
Then there was my Grandma. Her last name was Nott. And her parents named her Hazel, a very popular name at the time. Then when they got home, someone put the name together and realized what it sounded like. "You named you daughter a Hazel Nut."
How do you know what your name is?
Through the years, I have had some interesting experiences with names. There were the two twins that I met. They were both in their sixties. (Imagine that, twins being of the same age.) While I entertained in restaurants, I have come up with all kinds of stupid questions to pass the time as I made balloons for people. As I made these two ladies their balloons, I asked, “What’s your name?” They answered. “How do you know?” Usually, I only ask kids that question, but on occasion. . .
So, these two ladies proceeded to tell me the story about when they found out what their own names were. They said that they had been calling each other by their own name for about the first 40 years of their lives. I thought they were joking, of course. But they were adamant. They said that it was the deep dark secret of their aunt. She was too afraid to tell what happened until the end of the aunt’s life. The aunt finally confessed that when the two twin girls were babies, the aunt had actually switched them somehow. So, they had been calling their twin sister their own name until their adult life.
Who are you really talking to on the phone?
Then of course, I must mention the first phone call to one of my friends. As a teen ager, I met a young lady who would become a good friend. But I was at camp and wanted to call her. So, I called information and asked for the Culp residence in Brown City, MI. This was still when you could drive for three hours and still be in the same area code for the phone company.
So, I called the number and asked, “Is this Cheri?” The young lady on the phone said, “No, I’m her sister.”
“This is Andy.”
She said, “Oh, Hi. I’ll go get her for you.”
So the young lady came to the phone and we had a short conversation. But after about five minutes or so, it became apparent that something did not add up. She said, “This is Andy right?” And I said, “Yeah, and your Cheri, right?”
She said yes. But she was not “Cheri.” She was “Sherry.” And her last name was “Kulp,” not “Culp.”
I said, “But I asked for the ‘Culps’ in Brown City.” But she lived in Brownstown. To drive between Brown City and Brownstown was approximately three or four hours drive. Of course, we had a big laugh.
What are the chances that there is a Sherry Kulp living in Brownstown and a Cheri Culp living in Brown City? And they both had a sister. And they both knew an Andy.
Then there was a very recent occurrence. I have just recently started using Facebook on the Internet. My name is, of course, Andrew Grosjean. So, a couple of weeks ago, I did a search for a whole bunch of “Grosjeans.” Most of them were in France. But I sent a friend request of a ton of them, hoping to learn something about distant relatives.
My mom's last name was a German name. It is not a common name, in my experience. So I did a face book search for this name. I saw a lady named Charlene with my mother’s last name. But Facebook said Charlene and I had a mutual friend. So I hit the tab, and it was a man named Grosjean. That really freaked me out, because my last name is Grosjean. I mean, in my experience, those two names are not very common. What are the chances of that kind of thing happening. I mean, there was only one friend in common, not five or ten. It just seems like quite a coincidence. I do not know either of these people and I sent both a letter to find out more. I have not yet heard anything. For all I know they are in Europe somewhere and do not even speak English.
Name meanings can give direction in life.
Then there is the man named Daemon that I met. I was making balloons again at the same restaurant as the twins (though on a different occasion). I often speak to people about what their names mean. So, I was going around the table telling each what their name meant. So, Daemon asked the meaning of his name.
The only meaning I had heard for Daemon at that time was that it meant demon. But I did not want to tell him that. So, I tried to avoid. “What’s your middle name?” Christopher. So, I said, “Oh, well Christopher means “Christ bearer.”
He said, “But what’s Daemon mean?”
I did not know how to avoid the question any more. So, I told him, “Demon.”
He asked, “So. . . What does THAT mean?”
I believe that God gave me the answer in that instant. I said without missing a beat, “It means that you have a choice of who you are going to serve.”
Pattern Page: Circles, from College years
Most people do not know what their name means.
I do not understand people that name their children without knowing what the names mean. What are kids named Daemon supposed to aspire to. People that name their daughter Mackenzie are calling their daughter “son of the hero.” And what in the world would possess someone to name their son Brendan which means “stinky hair.” Why would you name your child “crooked nose” (Cameron)? Of course, I know that names are often associated with other connotations that make them desirable. But how do you explain naming a son after a demon?
In the Bible we see that God put a great deal of importance on names. We see that He cared so much about name that, at key times, He changed the names of different people. Abram (father) was changed to Abraham (father of many). Sarai (contentious) became Sarah (princess). Jacob (the deceiver) became Israel (prince with God). And we can mention so many more examples.
There are other people that God called rightly named because their name fit their character. Nabal was a fool because he rejected God’s ways. That was exactly what his name meant. Nabal means fool, and the Bible says that he was correctly named. Hebrew and Christian scholars have each said that Jacob was called Jacob even after the name change when he was living like his old self. God called him Israel when he was living God’s way.
Names can give us a goal.
The Bible tells us that one day God will give us a new name. Revelation 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it].”
God makes it clear that He is concerned with the meaning of names. He does not give non-sense or meaningless names. So, if God is going to give each of His saints a new name, He will give us each a name that reflects who we are. What name are you preparing for? What will your new name be? Lazy? Apathetic? Honest? Sacrificial? What do you want your new name to be? Perhaps that should affect how we live.
In conclusion, what is in a name? Everything. It is a reflection of who you are and where you have been and what you have done. At least our new heavenly names will be. Our names are the stories of our lives. These are the things that matter. So, I guess if your parents named you “dweller at the place where the oxen cross the river,” (Buford) at least we know that our Heavenly Father will get it right when He renames us in Heaven.
by Andrew Grosjean 11-23-09