Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Do You Look Like Your Name?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - May• 25•12

My 7-year-old son, Haydn, asked me a good question the other day. He asked, “Mom, how do parents know what to name their kids?” At first I thought it was cute that he didn’t realize it is completely our choice, but then he made some interesting observations. Haydn spoke about the phenomenon of how we look like our names, how they are so connected to who we are. He was simply amazed at how perfectly our names fit. And he wanted to know how us parents pull that off when we are coming up with these names. Two days later I was dropping him off for his last day of school and I always like to do a final appearance check. You know, no dried up toothpaste on the face, eyes free of crud, no bats in the cave, etc. I told him he looked great and asked him how I looked. He replied, “You look like an Aimee!”

Born in 1975, “Aimee” was a popular name choice. My parents claim they didn’t see that coming, but I was not thrilled to have a plethora of Amy’s as classmates. When the teacher called on “Amy,” we didn’t know which one of us she was addressing. That’s how I ended up naming my daughters Solanna and Zaidee. The spell check doesn’t even know their names. But there is more meaning behind them than just originality.

I always wanted to name my daughter Summer, but then I married a Byrd. Then it became a little too hippie-sounding for even me (and it really backfired for my boy name, Blue). But then I stumbled upon the name Solana, meaning sunshine. I’ve always loved the name Anna, so I just added another “N” and there you have it. We call her Solanna, Solee, So, So-Bo, and the affectionate, Nanna, which is what babies learning to talk usually call her. Each of my kids names have a story of how they got them, along with endearing nicknames added to them. I’m sure it is that way for every family.

But, nonetheless, if I Google Solanna, I find that it isn’t a name unique just to her. While reading Loving Well, I was reminded of Rev. 2:17:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Just think about that—receiving a name from our Creator and Savior that is intimate and unique to each one of us. It makes sense for God to rename us, like he did Abram and Saul, according to our new glorified bodies. But what’s the deal with the white stone that it’s written on? There are valid differing views on this, but I’m inclined to Sam Storm’s description of how they were used as a ticket of admission into public festivals. This could infer admission to the messianic feast of Rev. 19. As a married woman, this connection makes sense to me because I have already been given a name change to reveal a new status. Our new name will identify us with our husband, Jesus Christ.

But there is also great intimacy in that it is a name that no one else will know except the one who receives it. This makes me think of all the affectionate names that we give those who are closest to us. When my son entered first grade last year, he discovered there was another Haydn in his class (his dad insisted on the name Haydn). But he wasn’t bothered, and just informed his teacher that everyone in his family calls him “H.” He gave them all the permission to call him “H” as well. We also call him “Big H,” “H-bomb,” and sometimes by his middle name, Charlie. Haydn revealed the hidden intimate nicknames that his family affectionately called him.

I like how Storms explains the hidden part of this verse:

In this regard we must also remember that the “manna” given to us is described as “hidden” (Rev. 2:17a). Some believe this is simply a reference to its having been “hidden” in a jar in the Ark of the Covenant, but I think something more is involved. If Jesus is himself the manna, perhaps the point is that all that awaits us in him is “hidden” in the sense that it is reserved and kept safe and guarded against all possibility of loss so that we might revel in its certainty and the assurance that what God has promised, he will indeed provide.

 To sum up, there is an identity you have in God, reflected in your new name, that transcends whatever shame or regret or disappointment is wrapped up in who you are now. There is a very private and personal place of intimacy with him that brings hope and freedom and joy that none can touch or taint or steal away. Paul said it best when he declared that “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3b). Peter echoed much the same thing in saying that we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” for us (1 Peter 1:4).

Just like with naming our own children, each of our new names will have a story of meaning attached to it. We will gladly surrender our old name to bear the name of our new husband, as we’ve been made into his very image. Our new names will show Christ’s intimate, saving love for each one of us. Our new names and new bodies will all further proclaim the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. And I’ll be ready to celebrate at that feast!

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9 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    We went through a bunch of names until we got it down to the final choices for our son and daughter. At one point my wife said she liked the name Bart for a boy. I have nothing against the name. But I did point out that kids on the playground can get very creative with each others’ names, and if you transpose the first letters of “Bart Fall” you get an unfortunate nickname that would be unshakeable for the rest of the poor kid’s life.

    The idea that my Savior has a special name just for me, that no one would ever say it and think “Now which Tim are we talking about here?”, is amazing. We are all one in Christ, but we are each unique in him too. God’s family is awesome. Thanks for giving us such great insights into what it means to belong to him, Aimee.

    Tim

    P.S. 1975? Your just a kid! Why, you’re young enough to be my … extremely younger sister. I bet Matt’s still a pup too.

    P.P.S. Speaking of having Byrd as a last name and since you live in WV, I’ve always wondered if you’re related to the Senator.

    P.P.S. Kim Kirby posted one of my guest pieces today; it’s about being called to the Principal’s office: http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/05/25/on-being-presumptuous/ Hope folks here at HWT get a chance to check it out!

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Now that is funny. Glad you saved your son on that one.
      Matt’s 5 yrs older than me so he’s hanging out in the 40′s now.
      And, no, no relation to the Senator–we’re newbies to WV anyway.

  2. Doc B says:

    “…(and it really backfired for my boy name, Blue)”

    That’s funny.

    I read a blog by a feller who lives there in WV named Richard Mann. He named his son, ‘Bat’. Better than some other choices, for sure.

    I cringe to think about what my new name will be, if it is one I deserve. I suppose God’s grace will be manifest in the new names, as well as it is everywhere else.

    I have four kids. The first three have family names, but then we ran out of family members with enough character to name someone after. So my youngest is named after two sports heroes my wife and I share: Ryan Landry. He has fun with it, especially here in TX (he was born in St. Louis…almost named after Mark McGwire…whew…that was close!).

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      It will be awesome to see all the different names and how they point to God’s grace. Our God is both loving and creative. It always amazes me to think how we all have two eyes, a nose and a mouth, but God makes a kabillion, unique faces out of that.
      Well, I guess three people of integrity in a family is better than none. My husband named Haydn after the character on the TV show, Coach. He loved that show. I was reading Spurgeon’s autobiography during my pregnancy, so I said if we went with Haydn, his middle name would have to be Charlie–Charles Haddon with a twist.

  3. Kim Shay says:

    I deliberately chose names I figured most others wouldn’t pick for my kids, and all my kids have a name of someone in our family, either a middle name, or in the case of my daughter, Virginia, the name of someone very special to me. I could not help but think of a woman I know who for her 5th wedding anniversary, finally “took” her husband’s last name. Up to that point, she kept her maiden name. We worry and consider these things, but I don’t think we often think of the names we will bear for eternity.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      I think you and Doc B are onto something with the passing down of family names–God operates covenantally with us. Just think, we’ll all bear THE family name, Christ.

  4. Lyndsay says:

    I love some of the ideas in your blog posting, and have great respect for all women who are committed to engaging in theological discussion. In particular I love the idea that through our relationship with God, He speaks to us and inspires us toward names that represent our child’s spirit.

    At the same time I am wary of the scriptural interpretation provided relating to Revelation. First, the practice of giving a “new name” is a well known Temple Mormon ritual. The name is given, in secret, and is known by the Husband (not the wife) as he is godlike in the faith. He then calls his wife to the heavenly kingdom he has created, but only if she is “good enough”. I am concerned that this post may provide Christian support and theological support for the Mormon faith’s practice in this regard (particularly as they are trying to obtain recognition as a mainline Christian group).

    Second, If we are provided a new name at the time of Revelation (as noted in Scripture), and as Strong notes: “here is an identity you have in God, reflected in your new name…” are we not selling short the power of God to be present with us now? Tying our identity in God to the new name provided to us in Revelation feels like it minimizes Gods power to create our identity in him during the present time (rather than at the end of time).

    I would put forth that the new name referenced in Revelation 2:17, is the inscription made in heaven as a testimony of our life’s work (white is a reference to Heaven 15x in the book of Revelation). The name thus reflects our holy commitment to God, and can only be obtained if we hold fast to our Faith with deep repentance for our sins. Where we do not repent, and where we continue to engage in sinful behaviour (Revelation 2:14-16), we do not ultimately have our name written. Further, as we will not know these things until the end of time we are charged to be the lamplight (Luke 11:32-34), watchman (Isiah 52:8), and be ever ready (Matthew 24:43-45) in this life. Living a life that is characterized by Jesus’s deeds, words, and God’s spirit.

    It is lovely to engage theologically, just my 2 Canadian cents! Love your blog.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Lyndsay,
      Thank you for the kind way in which you disagreed. This section of Scripture is up for different interpretations. I read from several orthodox theologians before writing the article, and some believe that the name is actually for Christ. However, many respectable theologians believe it is a new name for every believer. I certainly wouldn’t want to lend to the Mormon interpretation described above but they take fuel from many of the Christian doctrines and twist it for their liking. The “white” stone also has several credible interpretations.
      That is a good question about selling short the power of God to be present with us now. But our marriage has not been consummated yet, and there are still many things that we are still awaiting (like new bodies, a new heaven & earth, glorification…and to be with the Lord face to face). I think of the name as detailing the story of the gospel in our own lives. We are certainly united to Christ now in Spirit, but thanks to the author and finisher of our faith we will overcome to the glorious wedding day of consummation.
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write your thoughts and respectfully disagree even. I also appreciate engaging theologically and realize we will not agree on everything, but this kind of engagement helps us to seek unity in God’s Word.

      • Lyndsay says:

        Aimee,

        I am glad that you feel that the disagreement was polite! I enjoy your writing, and my intent was to create some dialogue. Therefore this whole dialogue is Awesome! I think that seeking unity in God’s word will remain the largest challenge in the Church, but I would like to thank you for this blog, your thoughts, and your respectful reply. I look forward to further exchanges. All my best.

        Lyndsay (Canada)

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