What’s in a name?

I suppose we’re all “Royal Watchers” to some degree. I mean, how could you not know that Kate and Will’s son was born this week with all the media coverage?

Our interest in the story of The Royals is nowhere near the interest level in England, of course. (I’m sure the same is said in reverse of our infatuation with our American celebrities.) We have to admit, though, that the appearance of a new heir to the throne of England is exciting stuff. Particularly to those of us who have ever fantasized as children (or adults) of being a king or queen or prince or princess.

So, today’s big news is that Baby Royal has a name: George Alexander Louis. Otherwise, he’ll just be called “His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.” You know, his nickname.

Not too long ago, there was big news about another choice of name – that of Pope Francis. News agencies referred to the choice as “precedent shattering.” According to the Vatican spokesman, Pope Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is revered as a lover of the poor. I like Pope Francis. I like the way he takes seriously his role as a servant leader who genuinely loves people.

Of course, then we read about the slew of names given recently to American celeb babies: Moxie Crimefighter Jillette, Tu Morrow, and North West, for example.

I know. Hard to know what to say about that. I mean, it certainly isn’t the kids’ fault. I wish them all a happy life. But, still …

your name hereThere is something very important in a name. I like the stories in the Bible that tell of God giving people a new name after some defining mission or transformation comes along. (Think Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Saul …) In counseling, we talk about something called “key memories.” One of my key memories as a child is looking up the meaning of my given name, Sandra. In the book I used those many years ago, the name was defined as “helper of mankind.” (I just pulled it up online and found it to mean either “defender of men” or “unheeded prophetess.” Hey, pay attention.) Reading the meaning of my name led my young self to decide that I should be a missionary of some kind. That knowledge became a very important part of my identity development.

Our names give a certain impression of who we are outside of our actual presence. I have one of those annoying hyphenated last names, by choice, because I have children with two different last names. I chose to maintain my identity with both.

It’s interesting to see the process of choosing when it comes to names. Some choices are driven by tradition. Others are inspired. Some are selfish and silly. A few are earned.

As The Royals have announced the name of the newest heir, I am reminded of a simple girl named Mary, who named her baby Jesus. It was a very common name. Yet, Jesus would become the one to whom all authority in heaven and on earth is given.

There’s a name for the headlines, eh?

My “by 50” list

I suppose I’ve always been a dreamer and a goal setter at heart.

As a young musician, I wanted to meet Prince. And I did, at 22 years old, while living in the Uptown district of Minneapolis. He was wearing a blue jumpsuit. (“I’m goin’ down to Alphabet Street…” Y’all don’t know nothing about that, do ya?)

A few troubled years later, as a recovering AFDC recipient and a developing sales director in North Carolina, I set goals to earn company prizes, awards, and even cars. And I did. I wanted to own a house in which to raise my two young children before I turned 30. And I did. With two weeks to spare.

When my former husband and I first got (back) together (long, semi-sweet story), I wanted to get married and have a child together before I turned 40. And we did, when I was 39. I still have my precious child. The marriage, however, was short-lived.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be squarely in my late forties. You know, early forties, mid forties, late forties. Ok, late-mid forties. I don’t have any specific goals I want to achieve within the next two weeks – although it would be great if I could choose paint for my bedroom and finally have just one wall color – but there are a few things I’d like to see happen in my life before I hit 5-0.

It’s a short list of things, not entirely unlike a bucket list. I won’t necessarily “die happy” when these things are accomplished. I just need for them to happen to help me cope with the mental baggage of turning 50. By then, I hope to have some actual fruit growing on my tree. A legacy, I suppose. Something that connects me to others in a life-affirming, loving way, and that proves that I’ve been here and did something worthwhile for somebody beyond myself.

So, here are two of the major items I can share, in order:
– Publish The Addict Magnet
– Establish a related conferencing ministry

Truth is, I have done a lot of preparatory work toward these goals, from as far back as six years ago. I wrote the book in 2007, and had a publishing offer, but not the kind I’d like to get. I’ve been in graduate school for the past five years, studying toward a Master of Divinity degree from Campbell Divinity School, to train as a counselor and as a minister. With the book and training under my belt, I should have more of what I need to develop an effective and meaningful ministry.

Of course, if I’ve learned anything in Div School, it’s this: I don’t know much.

I can barely make sense of any of the things that have already happened in my lifetime. I have even less of a chance of accurately predicting what’s going to happen in the next few days, weeks, months, or years.

Still, I’m grateful to the God who continues to plant dreams in the human soul. Those dreams are the only link we have, really, to any notion of “future.”

God gives dreamsI believe in dreams, not in the self-helpers’ “believe it and achieve it” way, but as God’s way of communicating to me through the wild ride of my transformation into the Sandy I’ll eventually become while I’m still the Sandy I am.

Maybe I should add in some more intentional dreaming time over these next three years before I reach 50 … Who knows what might be on the next list!