When Kyle and I chose names for the girls, we didn’t look too much into the meaning of those names. We wanted to make sure their names didn’t mean child “of shame” (Here’s looking at you, Ishbosheth) or child “of my trouble” (Rachel’s last son), but we didn’t specifically pick their names because of what they meant. My parents didn’t pick my name based on its meaning (which is “woman of Judea,” in case anyone was wondering).
Americans mostly now pick names that they like for various reasons or have familial significance.
Our names, whether or not meaning is predominantly attached to them, define us in a way. We all have that name that we don’t want to name our children. When Kyle and I were picking out names for The Artist, I suggested one and he said, “Oh, no. I know a girl with that name. She’s going to burn down a school.” So maybe not that name. Additionally, because I teach about a hundred individual students during a school year, I had a short list of names that were definitely not for consideration.
We don’t get to choose our names any more than we get to choose our family. But our names have profound meaning for our reputation.
When someone says your name – when someone “name drops” you in conversation – what is the reaction? Why is your name being brought up? What is the emotion conveyed when your name is said? Is it joy? Is it a fond memory? What does your name mean for other people?
Whatever our names mean – whatever our reputations have become – God has also named us. The Creator of the Universe has called us His own with meanings to our names.
We are children of God.
— But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name — John 1:12
We are Jesus’ friends.
“I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.” — John 15:15
We are heirs.
We are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:1
We are chosen.
For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. – Ephesians 1:4
We are free.
For freedom, Christ set us free. – Galatians 5:1a
Throughout the Bible, God has renamed His own people. He renamed Sarai to Sarah, a princess of nations. Abram was renamed Abraham because he was the father of nations. Saul became Paul after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Our names are significant, our names hold meaning, and God knows us individually. He knows us and He loves us, and we are His treasured possessions, his children, and His friends.