“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;” — Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II.
Sorry, Juliet (and Mr. Shakespeare), but I need to disagree with you on this one.
Yes, I understand that Shakespeare is talking about how, if, Romeo wasn’t a Montague but had a different name, he would still be the same guy Juliet fell in love with, and would no longer be her mortal enemy based on his name.
What I want to talk about is why a name is important. Let me tell you a story.
I have been working at my job for about a month now. I work in cafeterias for our school district, and have been subbing for a woman who just had a baby. As I have gotten to know my co-workers, we have gone through the formalities of, “what is your name?” It took me a couple of days to remember them. One of the ladies there kept forgetting my name. She would be calling for me and I wouldn’t recognize that she was talking to me. She kept calling, “Megan, Megan!” Megan? How is that even close to Erin? I kept telling her, “No, my name is Erin.”
She just couldn’t get that in her mind. She would tell me how she didn’t know why but she kept thinking I was Megan. That went on for about a week. Finally, her mind recognized my name is Erin, but she decided that she wants to keep calling me Megan. Like a nickname, and now that I recognize she is talking to me, I will actually respond to Megan. The only backfiring bit is one of the other woman called me Megan today. I don’t think she realized what she did. More random is for some reason she was thinking my name was Ariel. Ariel? Really? Four weeks of Erin and you get Ariel?
So what is the point? I can hear you asking that.
My point is this. We identify with our names. Some of us received our names before we were born, and were addressed as so by our parents. Our names distinguish us from each other. There is history that is spoken and future promised by our names.
Isaiah 43:1 “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
There is heritage in our names! I honestly believe that our names speak volumes about us. That when God formed me, he saw me as Erin and saw my future and all the amazing pieces of me that would form my story.
My name, Erin, means Peace. It also is a name for the country of Ireland. I can think of many time that people have talked to me about my demeanor, what they fell around me. I want to honor my name and be a bringer of peace. Not sure how the Ireland part would fit in…
Looking up the meaning of Megan, I hope that this is what my co-worker saw in me and why she thought it was my name. Megan means pearl, child of light, strong and capable. I wouldn’t mind being the bearer of such. Maybe you even know a Megan and you see these things in her.
One last thought on the point of recognition. People calling us by our name means they know us. It almost jolts me when a new group of people starts using my name. I feel warmed by the fact that they recognize me enough to know my name. In the sense that I have arrived and people care enough to acknowledge me. How you choose to address someone carries a lot of weight.