My Story: What’s in a Name?

As I begin to add pieces to this blog, I’ve been debating what might be interesting to a reader. I settled on simple bits I’ve written. Here’s a little piece of my story. If you’d like a peek into the long term project I’ll be working on, here’s a teeny tiny one…

“White Wave”

My name is Jennifer.

Somewhere along the way an elementary teacher divvied out a homework assignment I’m sure she thought would be fun. “Find out what your name means,” she said.

I’ve always been a thinker. I can’t say the thoughts were sound or brilliant, but I could be more comfortable in my head than my heart. When words, relational skills, or athletic abilities failed, I often retreated to my happy place between the ears. I already knew things were identified by their names. Names described and defined. When I first heard the assignment, I took it seriously and even considered that it could shed light on who I might be in some deep, revealing way. Always interested in learning new things, I couldn’t wait to find out my name’s meaning!

When I completed the assignment sans Internet, the rudimentary resource at my fingertips (a book—with pages) offered “a form of Guinevere; of Welsh origin, meaning “white wave.” That’s all I knew. I vaguely recall other students had sweet, wonderful, or powerful meanings that conveyed joy and honor and bestowed all kinds of blessing. Missing the greater possibilities in my own name, I was just “all wet” as far as I was concerned. Except for Peter and Craig (both stuck with “rock”), I couldn’t think of anything more lackluster. Maybe the guy whose name meant “black water” was equally disappointed. I’ll never know. I suppose I internalized the whole thing and, at the time, likely muddled the limitations of meaning, the source of significance, and my identity.

When I named my children, I was careful to sift through meanings on those baby name websites before I settled on an option. (Yes, I might be known for overthinking a bit.) I’ve thought a lot about names, especially as they appear in the Scriptures, a name’s meaning had rich significance and was descriptive of character and identity. If you ever take a close look, you’ll find even our infinite God has revealed his character and identity to all of us through many different names appearing in the Bible. Do you know any of them? The Hebrew names of God make a beautiful and precious announcement to the world.

Have you ever thought about the significance of a name? Do you know what your own name means? Have you noticed any interesting connection between your name and your identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts…



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