As my father held our toddler on his lap, he referred to my mother as Grandma, but Mum swiftly reminded him, ‘I’m Mar Mar’, she said proudly. ‘That’s their special name for me’.
In later years, our son asked me if I would mind if he called me by my Christian name. I replied that it was a privilege to be able to call me ‘Mum’. He never asked again!
We like to think our name’s unique, but looking online for family and friends, it’s amazing how many ‘twins’ I’ve found. Some parents try to give their child’s name an original spelling, unknowingly burdening them with problems in the future! How many odd pronunciations have we heard from teachers who have never heard our name spoken?
I had a friend whose first job was as a receptionist in a funeral home. One day the director had to go out and he left her with specific instructions about a client who was expected to call in to view her deceased grandfather. When the young woman arrived, she showed her to the back room where he was laid out, and left her to mourn in private. My friend had barely returned to her desk when the girl came running out, ashen-faced and crying, ‘That’s not my Grandad!’ The man she’d seen had the same names as her grandfather, and had died on the same day! What a shock. My friend never forgot that experience.
As a teenager, I won a prize in a newspaper competition. The results came to my school, but another girl, who unknowingly shared my name (except the middle one), was called to receive it. She was honest enough to say she hadn’t entered the competition.
Recently, I was in the doctor’s waiting room and he came out and called my first name. I followed him into his room and when he examined the papers on his desk, he exclaimed, ‘Sorry! Wrong Lynette’. I returned to my seat while another lady was called in my place! I was next…after her!
These incidents show how unoriginal our names can be. In family history research, it’s handy if William or Mary is used repeatedly over the generations, but it’s also useful if you’re looking for a person with an unusual name.
Have you ever wondered about the name that Jesus promised to give his children? He said it will be a name we’ll recognise and will be written on a white stone, and he’ll hand it to us personally. This was what Jesus said the Spirit would say to the overcoming people in the churches:
I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name – Revelation 2: 17 (The Message Bible).
I’ve been studying these words lately and found a few historical theories about the meaning of that stone, but none seemed to fit. Of course, the apostle John’s ‘Revelation’ is full of symbols, and they can be interpreted from other parts of the Bible. I’m reminded of the fact that Jesus is our ‘bread’, or manna. We live, because he lives in us.
In the same way, our new, secret name shows us who we really are: to him, and to ourselves. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to relax ‘in our own skin’, as they say, and be the person we’re meant to be.
And who are we? We own the life of Jesus in us: his love, his good standing with his Father, and more! What amazing potential is in our new name!