This morning I got a present from my brother and soon to be sister-in-law, (woopwoop!) It’s a little bag with a personalised case. On the cover they write your name, with an explanation of its meaning. So if I was called Michael it would be: ‘Noble Warrior’. Or if I was a Jenny, it would be ‘Giver of Hope’.
My parents planned to call me Matthew, but it didn’t work out. Which means there’s no wriggling away from ‘Emma’.This is unfortunate, as the meaning, (according to Mr Bag) is ‘Principled and Confident’.
Previously I’ve been told that ‘Emma’ means ‘Universal.’ When translated into Mongolian, it’s ‘Genghis.’ (As in “Genghis Khan” – “Universal King. And er- psychopath). I’m happy to let ‘Genghy’ go. But the Bag Guild’s interpretation isn’t much of an improvement. “Principled and Confident” is just a synonym for “Moralizing” and “Bossy”. And Nobody wants to sit with Rules McShouty.
So I start plotting alternatives. ‘Godly But Fun With It’. ”Good In A Crisis, Ferociously Intelligent and Kind to Animals’, ‘Naturally Sporty”. Or, at a pinch, ‘Tall’.
I like these tags. But they’re not really me. “Principled and Confident” has a (faint) ring of truth – but I bristle at the pigeon-holing. Sorry to jump up and down, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Is it true that names are more than labels?
Katie Hopkins certainly thinks so. Two weeks ago, she had a rant against the names parents give their children:
I don’t agree that you can tell a child by the name their parents gave them. Discriminating on this basis is snobbish and damaging, (oddly enough, more for Hopkins’ children than the others).
That said: when other people confirm our names. When they say “Yes, you are Principled. You are Confident. You are a Warrior” we find ourselves living up to the label. And we find dark sides to those traits – ‘moralizing, bossy, spoiling for a fight.’
I return to my bag and resist the urge to reword it. Perhaps a better way is this: receive the name, celebrate what’s good about it, confess the dark side, and return to Christ whose new name for us rings out of Isaiah 62: “My Delight Is In Her.”
His delight is in me – even when I’m ranting and moralising. He knows my name and He redeems it too.
How about you: does your character reflect your name?