Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's in a Name?

Naming my children was far more difficult than I imagined it would be. As an adolescent I had already picked out my future children's names: Jack Daniels Gallup and Robert Lee Gallup (I may have been a bit of a redneck). Well, as I matured, those names lost the gravitas they held in my 16 year-old imagination. When we began to decide what to name our first child, I realized I needed a greater criteria than just what sounded cool.

Mary Grace was almost Mary Hannah. Yet my mother-in-law kindly informed me that that name was just short of terrible and sounded like Linda-Susan. Being the stubborn man that I am, it took quite a while to actually even listen to this critique. Hannah and Mary were both names we adored, yet in an effort to perserve the southerness of a girl born in Colorado, she had to have a double (southern) name and these two were oil and water.

Yet like revelation sometimes does, Mary Grace came to us in a flash. We knew we had the right name. Hannah means grace in Hebrew afterall. But more than the asctetic of the name was its meaning that captivated us. Mary means bitter in Hebrew, not exactly a wonderful legacy, but made beautiful in that right in the midst of our collective bitterness a savior was born: grace through pain. In her name, Mary Grace Rose Gallup, is a hertiage of women of faith in our family: Grace, my great-grandmother; Mary, three different grandmothers; Rose, my mother and wife.

Her name does not only honor these women but it provides hope for Mary Grace herself. The Apostle Paul wrote to his friend Timothy these encouraging words: "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." Apparently, faith is not as individualistic as we so often make it but is something inherited, shared especially in community.

This inherited faith is proven in that Mary Grace's life is even possible. Their courage to love both God and neighbor defined these women and paved the way for us to be the family we are today. It is our hope that Mary Grace will grow into the inheritance of her name. 

I will soon share the story and meaning behind Nehemiah Copeland's name.

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