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?