I have been commissioned to create a piece for a girl who is being adopted for the second time. Yes, that happens more often that you would think. The piece is going to include her name and three quotes:

  1. To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name
  2. God has many names, though He is only one Being
  3. From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues our honors

As I start this piece, I am flattered that I will be able to be part of this life changing event in her life. It made me think of my own name change when I got married. I was named for my Aunt Ann and I had gone by my maiden name for almost four decades. I had a bit of remorse when I changed my name, I had been known by that name for so long I was worried people would not find me by my new name. However I realized that Gog blesses unity. I wanted my family and future to be blessed, so I changed it to Bailey….a great name! I enjoy being Ann Bailey and everyone who mattered had no problem keeping up with that change.

We are known by our names. We can’t lie about our names by fudging them or changing them because we don’t like them, or pretend we are one family when we are really another. And we certainly can’t change them forever without a legal process. And yet, so many people struggle with their names. Divorce does that. It creates a situation where children have different names than parents, and yet they are still children and parents. Some people drop their surname and go by one name – Cher, Madonna, Sting, which tells us nothing of who they are or where they come from (which might be the point) and others go by nick names. I have a friend who has one name when she is with her family and another in the office – sort of a personal and professional name. I have friends who practice their trade under their maiden name and conduct their personal business under their married name. I have a friend who is a DJ on the radio and she goes by her middle name on the radio to protect her family from enthusiastic fans. And then there are people who have a name and no idea where it came from or why it is spelled the way it is spelled. There are those of us who want to celebrate or deny our family name because of history or one bad apple in our family tree.

And then I reread the third quote for this commission, “From our ancestors come or names, but from our virtue our honors”. We may not always have the freedom to decide what people will call us, but we do have the freedom and responsibility to decide what our name will stand for. What will people think of when they call your name? Does it mean joy, or fear, or peace, or excellence, or trouble? Does it bring confusion or drama or pain or disgust…or excitement, or praise, or happiness, or even comfort? You choose, and your actions choose every day. So be careful when you act for you are setting up the path for your name to mean something and your actions will ALWAYS speak louder than your words. Virtues are earned and create a reputation, so act wisely and create the name you want no matter the spelling.