Did We Give the Kid the Wrong Name?

 Image courtesy of kangshutters at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of kangshutters at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve often thought that I am most like Martha (as in Lazaras’ task anxious, task oriented sister), not Mary. When is the last time I sat, much less sat at the feet of someone? Sat and listened? Um, what is that? What does it look like?  I have no idea! Trouble is, my honest to goodness name is “Mary”. I am not Martha by the simple fact that “Martha” is not my name. “But I seam like Martha. I act like her. I don’t naturally act like Mary. “Mary” doesn’t fit as my name”, or so my thoughts go.

When we named our son, a large part of me wanted his middle name, Joseph, to be his first name. I accidentally called him Joseph many times in the first months after he was born.  Furthermore, an alarming number of friends, who don’t know my preference, occasionally call Joshua by his middle name! Every time this happens, I think, “We’ve made a big mistake! His natural name is Joseph! Besides, I just plain prefer the name Joseph.” And then I start to think about making it a big discussion with my husband to do a legal change of his name, and how much that would probably cost, and all the trouble of explaining it to people, and then I doubt it would be the right thing to do, and then I feel a little depressed and I give up. Until the next time someone calls him Joseph.

But as we were rough housing/snuggling recently, I realized that my heart whispers “Joshua”. That is his rightful name. It just is. And, really, deep down, I’d rather him be named after the big kahuna, because I’d rather him emulate the big kahuna, than anyone else. (Jesus is the big kahuna. ‘Joshua’ is thought to be a close derivation of the Hebrew.) Similarly, as logical and real as it seems for me to be Martha, I’d rather emulate Mary, as Jesus encourages us to do in Luke 10:41-42.

It reminds me of

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love, 1992)

Every time I read the above, I realize just how true this is for me. The resemblance is uncanny. I tend to go around town falling over backwards to keep people from having any conflict with me. It sometimes gets so bad, that I often assume that anything I ask of them will be a big inconvenience. And so I don’t ask for any favors, and I don’t even ask them any questions. And so we just sit there trying to keep my kids alive and agreeing on everything.

Names are a gift we give our children. Literally. “Rebecca” was the only Christmas present our first received. It was only 2 months before she was born, we needed to just pick a name already, and as soon as Erik ticked it off his list, I knew that it was the perfect name for that little being who I had been calling “Trouble”. (I’ll write some time about the nearly 7 months of bed rest during that pregnancy.) I think it was the Holy Spirit inspiring us to give her that specific name.

In a similar way, my name inspires me. I have to assume that my parents knew what they were doing when they gave it to me, and the grace that this points to is something I can lean on when my task-oriented nature rears it’s ugly head. God our Father has given my this name. And as Joshua grows, we will teach him more and more about living out his name. Choosing a Holy Spirit inspired name is really a very simple, yet deeply meaningful way to bring the Lord’s light to the world. May we all grow into our names more and more.


Miss Mary Clare


2 thoughts on “Did We Give the Kid the Wrong Name?

  1. Somehow I missed this post back in April. I LOVE it! I have often felt the same about my same name as well. Thank you so much for the delight that you put in my heart!


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