What’s in a name?

Hi Jim,

Hey Di.

Can I ask you something?


Is naming important?

Of course! It has been the bedrock of how we remember those gone before us.

Gone before?

Sure…our ancestors.

Really! Is that the only reason we name?

Well, no but it is the most common way to give names.

Why do we do that?

So we can remember people

Is it that important?

Of course it is!


So that their legacy lives on!



Aren’t there better ways to keep someone’s legacy alive?

Probably, but why are you so uptight about this?

I have been thinking about names a lot…


Well, you know how we are several of us named after grandma right?


I have found that there are common characteristics in all of us.

What do you mean?

Well, we are all very sweet and even tempered most of the time but when we cross paths with someone and are done with them taking us for a ride we just walk away and never look back. We don’t talk to people who don’t add value to us. We speak our minds regardless of who we are

Mmhhhh…that is true.

We can also all be very vindictive when you cross us and we do not forgive easily.

You could have learnt that from each other you know?

But we didn’t!

How do you know?

I met most of them as an adult and in the last three years. Your point would hold water if we were raised in close proximity or knew each other from childhood.

There could be another explanation you know?

Ok…like what?

I have to think about it, but I can see this is really disturbing you.

It really is.


I always thought that I could overcome all the things in my life even those that my name bears but I wonder these days?

All the things your name bares?

Yes, all the things I do that make mum and our aunties say, “You behave just like your grandmother.”

Is that a bad thing?

It may not be to some people but I don’t always like it.

What don’t you like?

The possible impact it has on my life and choices. The predictability it gives to people who know granny. The expected familiarity from those who share my name.

When did all these thoughts begin?

A while back!


My friend was telling me about her family and how all the men named after one uncle were all drunks just like he was. She also told how, her mother refused to name her brother after this uncle.

Are you sure about this?

Yes. I met her cousins and it is true, all the ones named after this uncle are just like him. So I looked further and we went to see the uncle her brother is named after and it was unreal.


Her brother is very similar to this uncle but he has his diviation points. This uncle is the diametric opposite of the other uncle and so is her brother.


I needed to think about naming though I had never paid it much attention. I wondered what all the hoopla was about.

What hoopla?

That it is an ‘honour’ to bear the name you were given at birth and taboo to even think of changing that name.


Changing your given name was seen as deciding that those who named you didn’t know what they were doing. In fact, changing your name could be the highest insult you could give to your parents and the elders of the community.

So what happened?

I have wondered for a while then I asked myself, “What does God call me? Is it different from what I was named at birth? Why did God change Saul’s name to Paul upon his conversion? Why did God change Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah?”

Wow! That is a lot of thinking.

I know but don’t you ever wonder if there is something you are missing that could be tied to your destiny and it could be fully expressed in your name?

Nope! I bet that isn’t all you wondered about.

Of course not!

Tell me more!

I wondered whether there is merit in changing my name.

Excuse me! Why would you change your name?

So that it would be more reflective of whom I am.

Are you serious?



I just wondered! The question was whether like the disciples I should keep my name or if like Abraham I should change my name? Could names with ‘unpleasant meanings or negative connotations’ be redeemed or if my name had several meanings could I choose the meaning that is most like me and ascribe it to my name.

Ok, that’s a lot of thinking.

You know names are spiritual right?


When your name is called something is activated in the spiritual. For instance, if you are called joy, every time you are called many believe that joy will be activated in reference to you and your life.

Do you actually believe that?

I think there may be some merit to it.


Think about it, sometimes people with certain names exhibit similar behaviour. Look at me and all those of named after granny, we exhibit her very behavior. We also often do some things the same and respond in similar ways but I have never really taken the time to understand. Does that make sense?

Yes it does.

So why did you behave like I was crazy when I asked the question the first time?

I needed to understand where you were going with your thought process.

Really! *throws a cushion at him* So you agree that we need to be careful about our names, their origins, their meanings and everything else that comes with them?


Can we be certain that we understand everything about our name?

Not always but we can ask God about it.

Do you think he will respond?


Do names enable or inhibit us?

It could be both always depending on what you believe.

What do you mean?

If you believe that God cannot transform your life then you are bound by the name you were given. On the other hand, God may ask you to change your name as part of your process with him and you will experience incredible freedom when you change it under his instruction. Or he could leave you with that name but do such a wondrous work in your life and overcome its limitations.

So it all comes back to me and God?

Absolutely! A name is the call you answer to and you need to be sure that it is the one God would have you answer to.


So that every time you respond, you are in obedience to him and connected to his plan for you and divine provision. Does that make sense?


Great! I’m off, I think you need to process some things.

I do.

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