***This is a continuing story about how my wife convinced me to name my son on my own, without any of her input – please click here if you would like to read the first post.
I imagined the following situation: some stranger, a really sharp looking guy, comes sliding into the delivery room where my son Samuel has just been born. He’s a handsome man and all the nurses kind of fawn over him and forget that not just anyone is allowed in the delivery room. His hair is wavy and dark and he’s tall with broad shoulders. He’s wearing a buttoned-up shirt with a cardigan sweater vest, expensive eye glasses. He carries a clipboard and one of those fancy pens.
Imagine he comes walking firmly over to the side of my wife’s bed, just as I am naming my son. He stands there and everyone in the room is kind of overwhelmed by his presence, although by now they know he shouldn’t be there. He smells very good – some expensive cologne – and he doesn’t seem to notice all the mess on those throwaway pads.
But no one has the guts to tell him to get out.
And he names my son. Right after I’ve just named him Samuel.
What would I do? As a father, what would I do?
I can get angry just thinking about that scenario. Who does this guy think he is, invading our family moment, presuming that he has the right to name my son? He doesn’t even have the authority to be in the room, much less to choose a name for my son. I had already named him Samuel!
But it’s not over. Imagine the years go by, and the name I pronounced over my son is still on his birth certificate. His social security card. His driver’s license. All the legal documents bear evidence to the fact that I named him.
But imagine, after all of those years, he starts thinking about this slick looking guy who named him something else. Which name would he take? What if, no matter how much I tried to convince him that he was Sam, he didn’t believe me? What if, instead of Sam, he started going by that other name, asking people to call him that, writing it on his school papers and tests, and, as he got older, signing it on on his checks and credit card receipts?
What if, after years and years of going by this other name, he forgot the name I gave him?
It makes me want to weep, all the countless ways that a situation such as this would break my heart. Perhaps I call him on the phone and he answers.
“Hey, is this Sam?”
“Sorry, you must have the wrong number.”
Maybe I see him on the street, walking down the sidewalk.
“Hey, Sam!” I yell across the traffic. “Hey, Sam, it’s me! It’s your dad!”
But he just keeps on walking, disappearing behind a crowd of people, my voice drowned out by the passing cars.
This has, of course, happened to all of us.
But wait, you say. I haven’t changed my name. It’s right here on my driver’s license, and my birth certificate, and my social security card. This is the name I go by. I would never let anyone else change my name.
I’m not talking about that kind of name.
The name your parent’s gave you, while well thought out I’m sure, is what I like to call your temporal name. This is the name attached to your body, your physical presence. When someone sees you they call out that name and you answer.
There are other kinds of names, the most important of which I’ll call your eternal name. Most people refer to this as your identity. This is who you are. Like the ents in Tolkien’s stories, your eternal name is long and more like a story than a word. It would take decades to write every facet of it. It will take you an eternity to unpack it completely, to find every ounce of its meaning. It is the name given to you by God, and at the great end of time God will reveal this name to you on a white stone. It will be a new name to you.
Yet many of us have so easily traded in this awesome, glorious name for shoddy, one-word replacements. At some point in our life someone else has come in and renamed us. These people come in all shapes and sizes.
An abusive spouse.
An angry parent.
A jealous coworker.
A sarcastic friend.
Many times those around us have stood by and let it happen. And eventually we took it on as our eternal name, our identity. The weeks click over into months, which turn into years, then decades, then deathbeds, and all the while we are answering to a name that is not ours.
We take these names on and soon we keep them, we guard them. They become our Precious, because having an identity, any identity, is a requirement for being human. It’s impossible to not have an identity. Many folks would rather have a wrong identity than none at all. You may think you’re one of these people that have no identity, but that’s just because you’ve accepted one of those one-word replacements:
Somewhere out there your eternal name is still in circulation. Or perhaps I should say, somewhere IN there. Inside of you, no matter how ingrained this counterfiet name has become, your true name still exists. You will not regain it easily. Your ears are not used to hearing it. Your lungs, once able to scream that name out in defiance to anyone else trying to rename you, have not been used in such a long time. There is only one way to regain that name.
Just as Sam had to be born in order to get his name, you must be reborn in order to experience this eternal name. Every lie the world has tried to tell you about yourself, you must forget.
And when you pass through that anguish, when you break free from that cocoon and come screaming out into the light, you will feel this newness wrap around you. You will feel a face draw close to your ear and speak with a clarity you could not have imagined possible. The sharpness of those tones will at first make you want to draw back.
But don’t move away.
Feel the warm breath against your cheek.
He will whisper your eternal name in your ear, and you will remember it. You will feel amazed that you ever believed in those one-word replacement names. You will bask in the joy of finally knowing who you are.
And behind you the nurse will hold up a twisted umbilical cord.
“A miracle child,” they will say, gathering in a huddle around the evidence.
To continue reading, click HERE