“I love the rare moments when I am permitted to offer my name to someone … to be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love.”
Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
We named our first girl before we realized there were two. I had her name picked months before there were any babies at all. Her name is delicate and lady-like and lovely. But the day we found out I was carrying two girls, the pressure to pick a second name was heavy. I couldn’t bear the thought of my girls within me, limbs pressing in on me and one another, one with a name and the other without.
And so as we left the hospital, shiny black and white ultrasound photos clutched in my swollen hand, The Man and I chose a name as we sat at a stoplight on Green Valley Road. We knew right away the name was a fit and I felt deeply satisfied that both our girls now had our love in the form of two beautiful names. It was powerful to name them before we met them, to have them come into this messy world with a sense of belonging. This is your name, little one. You will carry this with you from this moment until forever. This name is a piece of you.
Before I went to the Philippines, there were imaginary people I knew I would meet. But now that I’ve been, there is Rose Ann, Aj, Maan, Emily, Lola. People, women, children – seen and known intimately by God. Jesus calmed Martha by saying her name twice. He changed Simon’s name to Peter, the rock. He added the ‘h’ to Abram, literally putting Yahweh into Abraham. He changed Sarai to Sarah as part of his covenant. His attention is turned, not toward politics or policy, but toward names.
Names mean things, carry weight and importance and intimacy. To know their name is to know something of them. The world is not a nameless, faceless green and blue mass of land and water. The world is made of people, rich with story, full of intrigue, longing for passion, and love and adventure. And so changing the world means influencing people – beautiful, messy, fearful, fascinating, talented, lonely people. And it begins with knowing their name.