"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

27 January 2012

What's In a Name?

Definition of "name" (according to Webster)
name: (n)1. a word...by which a person...is known, called, or spoken to or of.  2. a word or words expressing some quality considered characteristic or descriptive of a person..., often showing approval or disapproval.
naming: 1. to give a name or title to. 3. to identify by the right name.

Names have meaning.

I've always been a firm believer that it's important to use words appropriately to convey intent clearly.  I believe that names have a greater importance than general words.  If general words lay the foundation for what is being conveyed, then names are the structures built upon that foundation.  Perhaps that's why I'm such a lover of allegories.

When I was born, my parents did not have a name for me.  I was nameless for three days.  After observing me, they decided that I was very much a Julie, but they did not like the way "Julie Lynn" sounded together. So they named me Julia Lynn and called me Julie.  That decision, believe it or not, has shaped my personality more than they could have possibly imagined.

There is a significant part of me that LOVES being a girly-girl. I adore dressing up in fancy dresses for balls or to go to the opera, having my hair done and wearing makeup for those occasions.  I'm attracted to victorian style furniture, decor, and jewelry. And I have an uncanny ability of determining (without ever seeing a price tag) that the most expensive item in a store, is exactly the item that I need.  I welcome structure, enforce rules, and want everyone to like who I am.  That (in my opinion) is the "Julia" in me.
There's another part of me that HATES small talk, chit-chat, and shopping for clothes. I despise wearing shoes for the sake of fashion. I'm clueless as a whole when it comes to fashion and would rather wear jeans and a casual shirt than have to think about what cut and style of clothing looks best on me.  I have a significant lack of awareness of time, am easily distracted. The only jewelry I wear is my wedding band, engagement ring, and a simple pair of earrings. I'd rather stay home than have to organize or initiate an outing, but I'm happy to get together with friends as long as someone else is planning the affair.  I need others to extend grace to me on a regular basis and I let my temper get the best of me more often than is fitting for a lady.  This (in my opinion) is the "Julie" in me.

As a child, I had more of a tendency toward the "Julia" personality. But once I had to face real life, the "Julie" in me took precedence.  It wasn't until I was shopping for a wedding gown that I had to physically deal with my internal conflict.  I tried on gown after gown (the one in the magazine that was perfect was, of course, WAY out of our price range). One gown would shout "Julia!" whereas the next gown would scream "Julie!"  Over and over again I would find one or the other, until finally I put on a dress that encompassed all of me.

So, it's been important to me for quite a while if we were ever blessed with the opportunity to name a child that we choose the correct name.

Initially, when we started talking about names and considering different ones, we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. Finding a name for a boy was no struggle.  We agreed right away.  We simply could not agree on any names for a girl.  Names I loved, for both their meaning and sound, he hated.  Names he loved, I couldn't stand.  Meanwhile, I was sharing our top ten picks with friends and family.  It wasn't until after I'd already told several people names that we were considering that DH informed me he wanted to keep the name a secret until the baby arrived, especially since we were having trouble deciding.

I had a conversation with DH last night in which I (half-jokingly) said, "Why doesn't God still do that whole 'send an angel or appear to you in person to tell you what to name your kid' thing?  It'd be a LOT easier! Especially since names are so important to Him."

I also told him that there are very few names in the bible that the person didn't turn out to be exactly like the meaning of their name.  I told him that I could think of three reasons this might be the case. 1) It could be that names carry such weight and significance that when someone is given a name they are destined to become what that name signifies (this argument goes out the window with a name like Cameron given to someone who was born with a straight nose); 2) It could be that the names in the bible are all allegorical (my least favorite supposition) for the sake of impacting the listener/reader in the retelling of the life and event (the names have been changed to protect the innocent, kind of thing); or 3) It could be that biblical names took on their meaning because of the way the people bearing those names turned out.

Personally, I think options 2 & 3 are very far-fetched. Number 2 would take a whole blog post to debate, but number 3 disregards the fact that people were named at birth with a Hebrew word that sounded like, or actually was, a word with an already set meaning.  I am a subscriber to the first theory.  I believe that people tend to become what they are named.  Whether this is because their parents were compelled to name them something that matched their personality or because words truly do have power, I'm not 100% sure.  I'm actually inclined to believe it's a little bit of both. I also think that's why God made such a big deal with specific characters in telling their parents what their child was to be named, because He had huge plans for them.

At the same time, I also believe that our child currently has her personality.  That she is who she will become at the core of her being.  That God designed her with a specific character that we will have a hand in shaping and training, but that is already there within her.  I also believe that He already has a name chosen for her.  I just wish He would clue us in on what it is ;-)  Have you ever met someone that just didn't fit their name?  It's rare, but it happens.  And when it does, it's a little off-putting.  Truthfully, those are the people I can NEVER remember their names...ever.  I almost always want to call them by a name that isn't theirs.

Well, drama has arisen as a result of this whole process of naming our daughter.

My mother was one of the people I had mentioned our top ten list to before being informed by DH that he didn't want to tell people what we would name, or potentially name, our daughter.  While I doubt that she specifically remembers all the names that I rattled off, I have no doubt that some of those names stuck in her subconscious.

After I told her that we were not planning to share the names we were considering, she selectively "forgot" that we had said that and decided to try to get me to let her play a guessing game.  Why I didn't just walk away, I don't know, but I should have.  Sure enough, she guessed the dreaded NICK-NAME of the actual name at the top of our list.  

I have a thing against nick-names.  They're a nick of a name!  They're not the real deal, they're a shortening of it.  To me it's like saying part of that person isn't important.  If I've chosen a name, it's because of it's meaning.  The entire name has significance and I don't want to shorten it.  I realize that some people (like my husband) just can't help it because it's their way of creating a term of endearment...I will have to live with that.  And some people plan to use the nick-name from the beginning because it encompasses what they want conveyed through the name or what they see in the child.  But for me it's like when my husband said, "Hey!  We could name her Elizabeth and then call her Beth!" and my response was, "Why not just name her Beth?" His response was, "Because Elizabeth is a beautiful name." So I replied, "Then why not call her Elizabeth?"  Nick-names are just lost on me.

So, the drama.  My mom said the dreaded nick-name, the one I had told DH that he is the ONLY person I would allow to call our daughter that name because I couldn't stand it and I knew why he loved it and could appreciate that with him.  My mother said it with such a look of tenderness and longing...a look that conveyed "that is the most precious name I can think of and I hope I get to call her that one day," that I knew if we decided for certain to go with that name that there was NO WAY I could keep my mom from calling her by the shortened name that I hate.  I was angry that she guessed it, I was angry that I allowed her to continue her guessing game, and I was angry that she didn't respect that we didn't want to tell people the name in advance and that included her.

I was able to talk to her about it the next day after I had cooled off a bit and had time to process why I had become angry.  Since then, I've also realized that a lot of why I became angry (besides the hormones) is that I struggle very much with pride and stubbornness and with a strong will.  A sure way of derailing my thought and making me obsess over something is to assert that something that was originally "my" idea is in fact your idea.  Drives me absolutely insane. So the thought of my mother thinking that she essentially named our child, or significantly influenced us in the direction of naming our child, got under my skin faster than you can blink!  I immediately texted DH and told him we could NOT use that name, ever, and it took me almost an entire 24 hours to calm down enough to think rationally.

So this morning, I noticed a bunch of people had suddenly commented on a picture in my Facebook pregnancy album.  (I've taken great pains not to post those pictures in the main feed for the sake of my infertile friends, and I simply post a status update that I have added new pictures to the album if they're interested in viewing them.  Now with that "live feed" side-bar I may as well be posting them on the main feed because once someone comments on the picture it announces it to the world.) 

One of the comments this morning was from my mother-in-law, and wouldn't you know that she went and made a comment about a particular name that keeps coming to her mind.  The worst part is, it's the middle name that is at the top of the list, which I've recently been wavering on, I might add.  It irritated me that she felt compelled to comment, but it irritated me even more that it was in a public forum.  At least my mom did her guessing game privately.

Well, this afternoon, my mother-in-law called me and casually mentioned her comment on my photo and said, "I just couldn't help myself," and I held my tongue and kept from saying, "I wish you would have."  Instead, I said, "Well, we'll tell people her name when she's born," and she gushed on and on about how absolutely that was what we needed to do and it was a good idea and so on and so forth.  And she meant it!  And then she proceeded to say, "Well, have you considered [this name]? What about [this one]?  I've always liked [this name].  You could always use part of your own name.  Do any of your grandmothers have a good name you could use?"  I know she's just trying to be helpful, but it reminds me of when people would tell us, "Have you considered adoption?" as if it was something we'd never heard of before and their suggestion of it would be the "aha!" moment we needed to "fix" our infertility!  It FEELS like people think we're somehow clueless and incapable when it comes to picking out names. 

We're not clueless!  We're cautious!  A name is a big deal.  It's a decision that lasts a lifetime and affects another person for the rest of their life.  I told DH this morning that it's as big a decision as deciding to get married!  It's a big deal.

I wish I were more like my sisters and could just roll with the tide and swell of people submitting their un-asked-for two cents.  I wish I could, with ease and grace, respond with a cute little quip that would make the person know their intent was well-received, but still make them stop at the same time.  Unfortunately, the Julia in me is not shining through at this time and the temperamental Julie is getting the better of me.

One of these days, I hope to look back at all this silliness and laugh.  In the mean time, I'm having to learn not only to hold my tongue, but also to keep my face from displaying clearly every thought I'm thinking.  (And I could use a ton of prayer about my attitude.)

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I would love to hear from you! The subject matter of this blog can be very sensitive. This is intended to be a place of encouragement and to be uplifting. It is never my desire to cause pain through what I write here, so please keep that in mind as you share your thoughts. Thank you.