Here in Korr, names are usually taken quite literally.
Chulayo (“born in the night”) was given his name because he was …born in the night!
Kulamo (“to gather”) has her name because…. many gathered for her birth!
Sofo (“faster”) was named because he came from his mother…faster!
Daniel, Elizabeth, Mercy, and Joseph--
(also known by their Kenyan names)
Dagti, Lagoya, Ntare, and Incaracha
The adults I talk with find it quite strange to name a child before they are born. How will you know the circumstances surrounding the birth- whether it’s raining or daytime or underneath an acacia tree?
Like most of you reading this, I was given my name before I was born. With my older sister Jackie as a cue, my parents avoided their first choice of Jillian in fear of a lifetime of mockery (Jack and Jill went up a hill…) and instead settled on Christina.
When it came to a middle name, the choice was more clear. After my sister had been named after my mom’s mother, I would be named after my dad’s mother.
I have to admit, when I was six years old, I wasn’t thrilled with the name Alice. It felt out-of-date, and I secretly envied those with more modern, cool names. But over time, I came to see the beauty in being named after my grandmother, and greatly appreciated such an honor.
My grandmother was a special woman. She raised five children to love God and to live their lives in light of that love, with her life as a prime example. She was a leader within their church’s youth group, spurring on many young people to take their faith seriously, and to commit to following the Lord with their lives. She travelled the world with my grandfather, and they made friends wherever they went because of their friendly, compassionate demeanors. They even joined the Peace Corps after retirement because of their desire to make a difference!
It’s needless to say that I would not be who I am today or where I am today without the influence of my grandma.
My grandparents with their 4 children and my mom
A few weeks ago, my grandmother suffered a stroke and a few days later, passed away. Although it is always sad and tragic when a life comes to an end, my family can celebrate the incredible life she lived. We can celebrate the love she had for Jesus and the way she spent her life serving Him. And we can celebrate the fact that she is now in heaven with her Lord, and has seen him face-to-face! Her faith is no longer, for it has become sight.
There were many conversations on what I could do, what I would do. But ultimately, with it already being a natural break-time from school, the decision was easy. I wanted to go home, be with my family, and honor my grandmother and the legacy she left behind.
What a privilege to carry her name, to bear the name of Alice.
Yet there is another name I bear, an even higher privilege that I have each and every day of my life. When I call myself a Christian, I am inherently bringing the name of Christ on my life. This is both an awe-inducing and fear-inspiring result of trusting and following after Him. To be considered worthy to have his name a part of mine? Unbelievable. To carry the weight of knowledge of his perfect name collided with my very imperfect life? Somewhat terrifying.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [Romans 10:13]
But what is perhaps most astounding of all is the fact that Christ loves me, loves each of us so much that he wants us to have his name. He wants us to take his name, even knowing that we will sometimes take it and misuse it, drag it in the mud behind us, or at times be ashamed of it or ignore it altogether. As Christians, sometimes we do a pretty poor job of representing Christ, but that doesn’t change who He is. I pray that when people look at flawed Christians (all of us), they would not think differently on the person of Christ, but rather see the God who wants to redeem imperfect people and call them His own, faults and all.
So today, as I reflect on my grandmother and my Savior, perhaps you, too, will consider the names you bear. More than anything, I hope that you would carry the name of Christ and live in response to the life he lived, the life that changed this world.
We do not become who we are alone. We all live in the light of someone’s legacy.
Whose do you live in?