Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Your Name Is Mud

That's what my mother would tell me.

That is what amounted to a threat coming from her: "If you don't do X, then your name is going to be mud." The thing is, I believed her. (She always told me that I knew what side my bread was buttered on.)

Names are powerful things. We use them to uplift, we use them to tear down (sticks and stones). Most parents spend countless hours when deciding on names for their children. Does it sound right? What is the meaning? Do the initials spell something obscene? Is it a family name? Does it reflect our values or religion? And so on ... as well it should.

The story of the Tower of Babel is based in part on the monstrous pride of the people who were trying to make a name for themselves instead of submitting to the Lord. Then they said,
"Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth." Genesis 11:4
Each of my children has a first, middle, and last name. I use them quite liberally, most of the time using the first alone, sometimes I use the first and middle together, or even the dreaded triple name utterance. (That's how we knew we were in trouble as kids, when our parents used our full names.)

Occasionally, I'll use first initial and middle name to get their attention; and for the girls, I will even use only their middle name (again to get their attention). With 5 Nod-lings, there are a lot of names flying about the house.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Nod-girl told me this today:
"At school, I didn't remember my middle name so my friend made one up for me."
I stared. I gaped. My mouth formed shapes, but no sound came out.

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