There’s power in a name. Names help us to make distinctions and bring order to the world around us. And it’s through naming that we can share our identities and tell our stories to each other.
For instance, one of the first things people want to know when a baby is born is his name – leaving parents to spend a great deal of time trying to select just the right name.
And each name has its significance, whether it’s a family name passed down from one generation to the next or one created anew. This name is given to help shape the identity of the child. It’s how he will be known, at least initially, and a significant part of how others will connect with him and enter into his story.
But we also seek to name our thoughts and feelings, novel ideas and personal wounds, relational struggles, social dynamics, and the like.
On every front we make sense of life by naming things. This gives us a map to navigate the complexities we face. In fact, we’re more prone to despair when we don’t have enough clarity to name the things we’re going through. Even naming fogginess gives us more clarity than mere nothingness.
But naming also has its limitations.
For example, the full essence of a child cannot be contained in his name alone regardless of how thoughtful his parents might be in naming him. There’s always more to him than his given name, which is why he often picks up several other names along the way – all highlighting different aspects of his depth and complexity.
And the same is true throughout life. At our best, we’re only naming dim aspects of reality.
God spoke creation into existence by naming what he wanted. And he has empowered us with the ability to name and bring order to the world as well. But our naming does not make us God and we should embrace our power with a good dose of humility.
Courageously name and bring order to your life and relationships. But do so humbly remembering there’s always more to the story than what you can name.