Say my name


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When my husband  and I were expecting each of our three children, we spent hours poring over their names. It was a painstaking process, but also one that brought us truly unparalleled joy. Once we had each child’s name, we held it close, like a beautiful, most fragile flower, only revealing it to our closest friends and family — those we could trust not to wound us with their opinions as we had seen others do.

Because a baby name is much more than a name.

I’ll never forget each time I held each of my children for the first time and spoke their names to them, over and over again. It’s impossible to put the moment into words, but I still remember gazing at my children, thinking, THIS is who they were all along. This perfect, indescribably beautiful human being whom I had felt but not until that moment seen.

But somewhere along the way — during the toddler years most likely — we forgot. No longer did our child’s name represent unseen hopes and dreams for the future, but a very real, beloved, but often contrary child — a true force to be reckoned with before we knew it.

My current toddler began saying her full name before she turned two – Erica Buntrock, she would say clearly. I asked everyone in the family if they had coached her, but no one had. That was when we realised that she was simply repeating what she had heard a few too many times from us.

Erica Buntrock (don’t touch that).

Erica Buntrock (get down from there). 

Erica Buntrock, whenever she did something that toddlers just do.

This wonderful blog post made me notice as well how often I said my older two children’s names in a less than loving and gentle way when I was impatient, stressed, distracted, depleted. How often I probably made them cringe, just by saying their names. I am really trying to be aware of that now — to make sure that all my children hear their names spoken gently and lovingly much more than otherwise — and to tell them the stories behind their names.

Hopefully, you have many memories of hearing your own name spoken lovingly by your parents and others — but I know that not all of you will. I am here to tell you that you deserve to have your name spoken that way — you are worthy of it. You did not arrive on this planet by accident. You were wanted. Your name was painstakingly chosen and it has been held close to the heart of the Father, like a beautiful, fragile, flower as we entered every phase of life: birth, toddlerhood, adolescence, middle age, old age, death.

Unlike we humans, he is never impatient, stressed, distracted, or depleted. I am amazed at how much more patience I have with my children when I am well rested. I can absorb so much more in that state. God is like that — only far better — ALL the time. Nothing — nothing — we do in our human, our lifelong, immaturity is too much for him to absorb. I believe that our names are never spoken, or even thought, by him, harshly because he possesses the perspective, the unlimited resources of energy, and much else that we as human beings don’t.

So next time you are tempted to forget how loved you are, remember how it was when you chose your children’s names, and when you held them for the first time. (Those of you without children are often very close to nieces/nephews or grow to feel much the same way about your fur-children, I know.) The way you felt then is only possible because you were resonating with the love that Triune God has for you and for all of his creation. And as most parents will attest, that love never goes away, even as a child loses some of his innocence day by day. We just become less mindful of it. But in moments of mindfulness, it all comes rushing back. It is there, always. With God, all the more so and he never loses his mindfulness.

And next time you are tempted to not love someone else — a loved one, an acquaintance, or someone you’ll never meet in a foreign culture on a distant corner of the globe, remember, when you say their names, that the way he loves you is the way he loves them too. Their names are sacred — they are sacred to him. Their names on our tongues matter to him and he is wounded when we trample them, as any parent would be. When we trample their names, we also trample his, because we are all connected to him. We are intertwined, irrevocably, because Triune God bonded itself to us for all eternity through Jesus.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

Could it be that when we say our own names and the names of others in less than loving ways, we are taking HIS name in vain? He is big enough to handle it, but he knows that we, alone, are not. So his admonition to us is not to do it.

Something to think about next time I say my name.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

1 comment so far

  1. Bill on

    super! Great advice and deep truth!

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