Choosing Your Own Name

Sunday, February 01, 2015



What would you have named yourself if you had had the choice?

That might be a weird thing to think about. After all, your name is who you are. It's who you have always been. It’s hard to imagine anything else.

But suppose you had been given the chance. How would you have chosen? Would you have gone for something daringly original, or stuck with an old classic? Would you have named yourself after someone you respected – an ancestor, a great leader, an athlete?

Would you have chosen a name more for its sound or its meaning? And if you had gone for meaning, would you have taken a straightforward approach – "Hi, my name is Awesome" – or perhaps veiled it in a translation? (That's "Subarashii" in Japanese, or if you wanted to go for that super-villain vibe, "Na-Klaw" in my mom's native Thai.)

What name would you have chosen? And why, of the countless possibilities, would you have chosen that one? And what would that have said about you?

Ultimately, this is a giant hypothetical, right? Of course we don’t get to choose our own names. That ship has sailed. Sure, we can get our names legally changed or adopt a nickname, but the fact remains that we all came into this world at the mercy of someone else's naming.

Well, except one person. One person actually got to choose his own name before he was even conceived. As it turned out, he chose a common name from his own culture and language – nothing very edgy or trendsetting. But it was a name full of meaning, a name that spoke volumes about the life he planned to live, so that people could not even talk about him without (even unknowingly) telling his life story.

He chose the name Yeshua  Jesus – and it means "God saves."


Inspired by (and last line shamelessly stolen from) a sermon by my good friend Chris Harry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

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