Names & Naming
If you are a mama, do you remember those days of pregnancy where you searched and searched for the perfect name for your baby?
Remember testing the name with your last name? Sharing the name ideas with friends and family? Writing it a million different ways? (Well, that happens with child #1, by #5 all of that craziness has long worn off :))
Some people even talk about names for children when they are dating!
Names are important. Names are significant.
Imagine yourself in a place where babies are not given names for a few months. Why?
For a mama in severe poverty, the possibility that her baby may not survive is a real one. Malnutrition, inadequate health care, superstitious beliefs, violence .... all reasons that a mama might lose a baby too soon.
When death hovers close to new little ones, mamas are hesitant to cling too tightly. And thus, important landmarks such as naming and remember birthdays become inconsequential in light of survival.
Many children here have no birth certificate, no record of their very existence. Those that have a birth certificate often do not know their birthday or the proper spelling of their name.
At Instituto Vida Abundante, we operate with the names as they are officially spelled on their birth certificate. I cannot begin to tell you what a challenge this is for the majority of our students...
We have a Jayson who spells his name Jaison and cannot remember that his birth certificate uses the y. We have an Erica/Erika, a Maik/Maick, an Erickson/Erickkson/Ericksson, an Orlen/Orlin and on and on.
We have a majority of students who have no actual idea how old they are on their birth certificate - just how old they are based on what family says.
The same goes with last names...
Since my thinking typically runs in spiritual metaphors, of course I began thinking about how God views this naming thing. It is interesting that God gave names before birth... as He revealed those surprise pregnancies to Abraham and Zachariah and Joseph, he also revealed the name that the parents should give the child.
Names throughout the Bible have meaning and are chosen with the meaning in mind...
I wonder about this naming thing and how it impacts a child? I wonder if any of the lack of confidence we see here results from the fact that the students don't see themselves as an important individual with a God-given purpose? I wonder.
I never have to wonder if I'm Laura or Laurie or Lori. My parents chose my name with care. My name has meaning... the word itself has meaning. I feel chosen and loved. That basic building block has never been missing for me.
What are your thoughts about importance of a name?