Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's in a name...

As a mother, I have a unique space with my children, to create.  I can create meaning as I pause in our day to describe the beauty of a sunset.  When my boys grasp to be first,  I can define the moment where we seek to be servants; we can choose to be last.  As we talk about a fellow playmate's fascination with base jokes, I can give the children fodder for thought on how we can laugh around more lovely subjects.

Likewise, I can destroy.  I can take the hope out of the little voice asking to come see the cockroach he just killed with an ignoring response.  When my son pours milk in the cup, on the counter, and it begins to drip down to the floor, I can miss the opportunity to call him a helpful big brother with a testy reaction to the mess.  When my child needs me to be the authority in their lives, I can overly expose them to the whims of the world as I seek to be their peer.

I can create, and I can destroy.

(Bob Dylan song in my head here, yes I have spent many years with my children's music as my mainstay. Go ahead, listen to it as you read on :)

"Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field." -Genesis 2:19-20

I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by this incredible window into God's relationship with us.  At the very beginning of the world, even as Adam is still wiping the dust off from his emergence, low and behold, here is God bringing over a fluffy timid bunny, a mournfully squawking feathered peacock, a scaly iridescent beta fish.  

And what is God doing as he brings them to Adam,?  He is waiting.  You get a feeling He is expectantly waiting, with excitement, as he listens to Adam.  You can almost hear Him whispering, "What about this one, Adam, what do you think we should call him?"

And that was it.  The authority is apparent, it says, whatever Adam chose as a name, that would be it.  There are few moments as poignant as this one. God is sharing his gift of creation by giving his newly made man this creative privilege.

And He offers me the same.  And He offers you the same.  Somehow, in the profound mystery that is God's plan, we are co-creators in this world.  We are namers.

Look back over your day, over your week, over your children's young lives.  What are the names you have given them?  Are they: special, precious, my lovies, beautiful, handsome, amazing, beloved, good?

When they do something so very imperfect, when they get in the way of your well planned day, when they interrupt your oh so spiritual quiet time, how are you naming them?  Do you let slip: messy, annoying, clumsy, distracted, sensitive, slow, lazy, a problem?

What about the names they know you mean for them?  Is it little lamb or a kid?  Is it precious or dude?  Is it wise one or too smart for her own good?  Is it blessings or rugrats? Is it creating or is it destroying?

There are power in those words.  They carry with them authority.  They will stick.  As mothers, they are ours to give.  God lets us name.  And, I think, He is waiting, listening, excitedly.  Mary Robin, what do you think we should name this one?


Lindsey said...

So profound, I have read it twice and read it aloud to Matt. I am both blessed and challenged by your words. I am a better mother when I am encouraged by your company ... when I learn from your example. Thank you, friend.

Sharon said...

So true, so true. I was telling Brad over the weekend that I am growing weary of things I've been hearing others say (or call) one of our daughters. They're not blatantly "mean", but they put her in a box I distaste and it limits their hope for growth and change in her little life. So hurtful as the momma...and then I need to examine my own words and see where I am doing the exact. same. thing. with others (and sadly, those I love the most!).

Erin said...

Really love that! Thanks for the excellent reminder!

Lisa said...

This is such a thoughtful post! I really love the way you've applied the scripture to this idea. You've given me a whole new way of examining what words come out of my mouth. I think I've always been aware of the power of my words and the labels I'm assigning my children, but the way you've framed this issue gives it even greater significance. Love it, love it, love it!!!