What’s in a Name? (Reflections on Legacy)
When the time comes to name your child, you can pack that special name with history or pick something fun and new. It’s a decision that comes with much weight and responsibility. After all, the name you choose will identify your child to the world.
For each of our kids, we thought long and hard about their names. For us, it had to mean something special, have some kind of family tie, and be fun. We wanted it all! And I believe God led us to names that have all of those qualities.
Their names have become one way we speak into each child’s life; the more we talk about what their name means and why we chose it, the more they begin to gravitate towards those traits as well.
Lucie Christine: Lucie meaning “bringer of light” and Christine meaning “anointed one” – you can tell we have prayers and hopes for her to bring the Gospel to many people. And both of our family trees have Christine or variations of that name.
Karolein Rebecca: Karolein is literally translated in German as “little song” and Rebekah means “captivating, loved.” Caroline is in both family trees (including my first name, Carrie), and Rebecca is Sam’s sister’s name and my first cousin’s (like a sister) middle name.
Micah Samuel Herman: Micah would have been my name, had I been a boy, and it asks the rhetorical question “Who is like the LORD?” Mike is Sam’s Dad’s nickname as well. Samuel means “The LORD hears” …and then we get to Herman: My grandfather, who passed away last week, was named Herman. His father was Herman and he named his first son Richard Herman. Herman means “warrior/army man.”
When we told my Grandpa that we were going to include the name Herman in our coming son’s title, he laughed and said, “I thought everyone had given up on that one!” He was honored. He should be. We used the name to honor him, and my father, Richard Herman.
What legacy do each of these names hold? The most important legacy is that the name of Jesus covers them all. Jesus forgives them all, Jesus empowers them all, and Jesus calls each of them his own child. The ties of these names go back into the history of who we are: they give us opportunities to speak about the people who have gone before us who held those names: Grandma, Grandpa, Great-Grandpa… And they give special ties to those who are still with us: Cousin, Aunt, Sister…
Herman was a man who was very special to me – he and my Grandma, Loretta, who passed away two Christmas Eve’s ago, gave me roots.
They were constant, close, warm, laughing, game-playing, hard-working, cookie-baking, gardening, singing, permission-giving and forgiving, and they LOVED me: I knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt.
They modeled God’s love for me in Christ. Now that they are both gone, I feel a bit of a shake in my foundation, as I shift away from my role as a granddaughter. I can be thankful that at 40 years old, I still even had a grandparent alive. But the child inside of me mourns the fact that I am now a grandparent-less granddaughter: that special title and all the love that is packed into it seems suddenly empty.
However, God tells us to come to him with faith like a child. Now that my last living grandparent has gone to heaven, the place they filled in my life as they showed me God’s love is now filled to over-flowing with the One who they were modeling: my God.
What legacy are you leaving with your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, even the kids across the street? Do they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are forgiven by Jesus because you offer complete forgiveness to them, as well? Do they know that you are loved by Jesus and called his child because your love for them is generous and liberating?
How can you use your position in a child’s life to share the truth of God’s saving grace? What ways can you live out your life with them that will leave behind the legacy of another covered, forgiven, empowered, loved child of our Heavenly Father?
I love my Grandpa. I will miss him terribly. Now that he has left a void in my life, I cling to the legacy he left behind: my hope is built on nothing less than the sure hope I have of restoration through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
– Carrie (“captivating, loved”) Brooke (“little stream” and “to endure”)