Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's in a Name?

Revelation 2:17
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, know only to the one who receives it.

My friend and fellow blogger/author, Glynn Young, posted this poem, The White Stone, several days ago on his blog, Faith, Fiction, Friends.  I was so moved by the succinct and expressive beauty of his words that I turned right around and composed a poem which I subsequently posted in Glynn's comments section.  Please take a few moments to read his poem before continuing on with today's post.  I guarantee you will be inspired!  Oh, and while you're visiting Glynn, do yourself a huge favor and order his books, Dancing Priest, A Light Shining, and Poetry at Work.  I have read all three and cannot recommend them highly enough.

What's in a name?

My parents named me "Martha" for my mother's sister, and "Jane" for my father's sister, Mary Jane.  And, uncharacteristically for Yankees, they called me by both!  Sometimes, I can't help but think God's incomparable sense of humor gave them, though my name, the premonition that they would, in four short years, be living in Georgia where double first names were, and in many places still are, all the rage.

Honestly?  I didn't like my name when I was growing up.  I wasn't a Susan or a Kathy or a Karen, common monikers during the '50s and '60s.  No.  I was old-fashioned, Biblical Martha.  I don't even recall meeting another Martha from my first day of elementary school through my last year of college.  Seriously!

Upon reaching the prepubescent age of eleven, I decide I no longer want to be called Martha Jane, but Marty instead.  To my young, inexperienced mind, that sounds so much cooler!  My friends are quick to accommodate me.  My parents?  Uh-uh!  Martha Jane it was, and Martha Jane it would remain!

Gradually, as I matured, I learned to embrace the name I am given, though I leave off the Jane part.  (Ironically, I reinstated it when I published my books.)  Again, the fear that the two-name first name carried a social stigma forced my hand in that decision.  Though I lived in the south, I had yet to claim it as my home.  The northern influence from my parents was just that strong.  And, as a young adult who hadn't come into a true relationship with Jesus, I am more concerned about what others think of me than about what God thinks of me.

Not good!

But, here is the question:  Does your name define who you become in life?  How you live it out?  Once I became a committed Christian and began reading the Bible in earnest, I am fascinated by the stories about the sisters, Martha and Mary, in the New Testament.  Too readily, I identify with Martha, always hustling and bustling, working, raising two children, involving myself in a plethora of church commitments.  But, in my heart of hearts, I wish to be more like Mary, content, at peace, and at ease at the feet of the Lord.  I know that it's this very dichotomy which made the writing of this poem I share below possible.

And, once again, I'm amazed how God can use all our collective experiences, good and not-so-good, to propel us forward into the persons He means for us to be.  

I am named "Martha,"
And, I live up to it.
Serving without ceasing,
Doing before thinking.
Assuming deeds will save
My soul which only longs
To be like Mary.  Is that
My white stone's name?
Still and rapt, kneeling
Before the Lord, my God?
I'd like to think so.
I pray to know so.

So, what's in a name?

Everything!  When you allow God to choose it.

And, you accept the white stone He offers you.


Do you like your name?  Why or why not?

Prayer:  Dear Father, you have called us by name to be Your beloved children.  No matter what our earthly parents chose to name us, let us journey into the name by which you know us, the one written upon the white stone.  Let us live fully into the riches of Your grace and glory.  In Jesus' name, amen.


  1. Thank you, Martha, for another meaningful post.

    Now that I'm older, I like my name (much to my mom's dismay, I favor the shortened version over the full, given version). However, growing up, I remember I didn't particularly like my name. Honestly, I don't recall the why behind it.

    Love and blessings!

    1. It seems as though parents take our decision to change or shorten our given names the most personally, Kim. So glad you enjoyed today's post, too!
      Love and blessings!

  2. Thank you Martha for this very nice post! I didn't like my name as a child because I thought it was too serious! I started liking it when I read more about it and what it means :)

    1. Isn't that funny how some of us don't readily take to our names? Instead, it seems, we grow into them and learn to like them. Glad you've decided to like yours, my dear!
      Love and blessings!

  3. Martha,
    I'm proud of my name as Warren isn't all that common..

    I eagerly accept "Wazza" as a nickname; however I HATE being called Wayne or Wally. I'm normally only called those names by those trying to remember my name. Warren. :)

    1. No, Warren is kind of like Martha - a bit old-fashioned, but sturdy nonetheless. I believe that was C. S. Lewis' brother's name, and it was the name of one of my dear friends who passed from this earth all too soon.
      Wazza? :) Makes me think of "whaz up!"
      Glad you visited today!
      Love and blessings!

    2. G'day Martha,
      Wazza is a fortunate nickname to be eligible for in Australia. I'm so fortunate indeed. :)

      Here's how this nicknaming convention works;
      Warren = Wazza.
      Darren = Dazza
      Terry = Tezza.
      Barry = Bazza.

      Of course Ladies don't miss out on this;

      Carol = Cazza.
      Sharon = Shazza, or taken to extremes Shaggy.

      It could only happen in Australia. Shaggy came from Paul Hogan's "Crocodile Dundee".

      Well now you know Martha.:)

      Regards Warren.

    3. That is so interesting, Warren. I'd never heard of that, but really like the "name game" you play down-under! Thanks for the education!

  4. I was named after my paternal grand mother...and I did not like it a bit when I was a kid. It was not a common name yet, it was old fashioned. Janaki is the mythological name and in many ways we women go through what these characters went through...some things remain the same through the ages.

    A wonderful post as ever. Very introspective.

    1. Yes, Janaki, the more things change, the more they remain the same. I think it's wonderful that you were named after your grandmother; though you didn't appreciate it at the time, you, like I, have learned to grow into it.
      Love and blessings!

  5. this is such a neat post. I enjoy learning about your name and thinking about mine. My mom was Jean too so when little I was Jean Anne until I became Jeanie to my friends. Funny how we reinvent ourselves through our name. Now I am proud of my names - my middle name is after my great Aunt Anna who I feel a very strong spiritual connection with.

    Had a friend who loved the name Adam and legally changed it to that when he was 40. He did discuss this with his mom before he changed it so she wasn't upset; she actually blessed him knowing he always loved Adam as a name since he was little. I think in some ways he made the correct choice.

    interesting to remember that. Thanks Martha Jane!

    1. Wow, Jean, I loved reading about the "evolution" you went through with your own name and the family connections with the Jean and the Anne.
      I've never personally known anyone as an adult that went to the actual process of officially adopting another name. How interesting! Glad Adam's mom approved. :)
      Love and blessings!


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