Roses, French class, and "the girl"

Shakespeare asked the question first – I merely reiterated it on Facebook last week. “What’s in a name?” I asked my friends last week, “If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would you choose?” I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with my name. It’s too short, too plain, too “sit there and look dull.” Even the letters do nothing but stand straight up.
My mother preferred one syllable names; consequently, all of my children have multisyllable romantic names. I rebelled.
High school allowed me to dabble in name changing. In freshman French class, we could choose our own French name by which we would be “appelle”d all year. I chose Brigitte – foreign, lilting, as far from prosaic monosyllable Jill as possible.
A year later, our Spanish teacher chose names for us, and she tried to match our real names. “Jill” stopped her. I mean, how do you even pronounce that in Spanish? It comes out like “he” with a hint of “yuh” at the end. That is not a name – it’s the sound one makes when coughing up something unpleasant. So she christened me “Juana,” the feminine form of John, possibly the only name worse in terms of common, ugly, boring. Other girls got Katarina and Maria, and I got . . . Juana. Seriously. Not. Right.
In college, I made a fleeting attempt to change my name to JillMarie. It’s didn’t quite get off the ground.
Maybe my mother was rebelling against her Scandinavian upbringing. Did she deliberately choose a name her Swedish father could not pronounce? Rather than call me “Yill” and admit that he couldn’t extract the “J” sound from his tongue, he simply referred to me as “the girl” on the few occasions we met. How he pronounced the name of his daughter Joanne I’ll never know.
When I answered my own Facebook question, I decided I would prefer to be called Kate or Sarah. Kate I suppose, because of Katharine Hepburn – a woman who has always seemed what I’d liked to be – unflappable, honest, and beautiful in a way that dares anyone to deny it. “Sarah” sounds like a woman who’s looked life in the eye and come out gracious, smiling, and wise. I’d like to be a Kate or a Sarah.
What’s in a name? Shakespeare knew – there is something that matters. In ancient cultures and, indeed, in many cultures today, a name denotes the parents’ hopes, dreams, and plans for their child. What a parent called a child mattered immensely to that child’s future. Would I be a different person had my mother called me Kate or Sarah? I have no clue.
But I do know something that might be helpful to someone today. I know without a doubt what’s your heavenly parent calls you if you call him Father. He calls you:
  • Uncondemned(Romans 8.1) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
  • Free (Romans 8.2) And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
  • Accepted(Romans (15.7) Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
  • His Masterpiece (Ephesians 2.10) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
  • His own possession (1 Peter 2.9) for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,a holy nation, God’s very own possession.
  • His temple (1 Corinthians 6.19) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?
  • His child (John 1.12) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
  • His friend (John 15.15) Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
  • Brand new ( 2 Corinthians 5.17) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I can stick with being me if I can have those things.

What about you? I know you might be comfortable in your name, but if you could choose, what would you pick? Or does your name have a special meaning for you?

9 thoughts on “Roses, French class, and "the girl"

  1. Love this post for many reasons. One is my own struggle with my name. I wrote a blog post about it–too much to go into here. I love your list of names that we have in Christ. What a blessing! I really think God is fine with Jill and Juana and all the other names, even Lou Ann! :o)



  2. Interesting post. I was named after both grandmothers–Clara (Mom changed that to Carol) and Anna. They didn't realize that Carol is the feminine form of Carl–meaning “strong or strength.” There was a lot going on with 6 kids! Turns out I was a strong one and helped raise the younger four. There have been times I wished God didn't think I was so strong. I'd be happy with a little less to plow through, but He knows our frame!


  3. So I posted a comment and then realized I spelled 'Jill' wrong… Hm… Anyway, I like JILL. It's strong yet somewhat quaint – much better than Sarah or Kate which are overused. (Sorry all you Sarah and Kate's out there.)


  4. I'm bewildered at so many Christian parents who give their children such crazy names! Especially when there are so many wonderful Biblical ones to choose from – even if one does want them to be unusual.
    We chose our childrens' names very mindful of their original meaning – Jonathan – God's Gift – William (helmet of the will) – so he has God's gift of a godly helmet over his will, rather than the usual outworking of that name of someone being stubborn in that fleshly helmet…..
    And with a name resulting in Jonathan Edwards – I think he's going to need it! And Oh Yes – He loves the Lord with one very special and precious anointing!
    I'll spare you the details of our other wonderful children – Hannah, Abigail and Joel.
    Our names are such a precious part of who and what we are!


  5. Hi Carol. Strength is a great quality for parent to wish on a child–we all need it. As one of seven, I completely understand. Though I was the baby, so I didn't have to raise anyone!


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