What’s In A Name?
“Kimberly?! You have such a beautiful name!” declared the woman behind the counter as I lifted my gaze to meet hers. She was impeccably dressed and continued with a dignified southern drawl, “You know that your mother chose that beautiful name for you? I hope that you always go by Kimberly. Your mother meant for you to go by Kimberly.” I silently nodded and thanked her for her kind words, while knowing full well that I rarely went by Kimberly.
There have been at least a hundred times since then that I have thought of her prompting. Many of those times were when I was introduced at a business meeting as Kimberly because it is on my auto-signature for e-mail correspondence. Sometimes it felt like they were introducing someone much more important than I or that they used the name because they did not really know me. The sales clerk’s words also came to mind when I have been with my aunts and uncles, because they commonly call me Kimberly. It feels nice and familiar when they say it, not awkward like when “Kimberly” is called at the doctor’s office. And I thought about it again last week when I was with my parents. My mom introduced me as Kim to her friends and neighbors. I wondered if she wanted to use Kimberly instead.
Later that week my heart smiled when my dad called out, “Kimmy, can you help me?” It reminded me that nicknames and pet names are often the names we love to hear even more than our given names. They are a reflection of the love someone has for us. My granddarling’s faces turn expectantly when they hear me call them by, “Buggie” or “Peanut”. You see, they know that my name for each of them comes from a special place in my heart. Take Peanut, she was so tiny when she was born. And from the first day that I met her, I held her close and called her my little Peanut. Years later she still recites why she loves that I call her Peanut: because I am the only one who calls her that, and I do not call anyone else by that name. Pet names make us feel warm inside, don’t they?
What are some of your favorite names to be called? Do they come from your family or from your friends? Perhaps they are a play on your given name? Being that our last name is Oaster, many of in our family have the nickname Toaster. Maybe your pet name is a reflection of a personal attribute like Speedy or Slick. Our hearts light up when we are known and called by our given name or by pet names and nicknames.
It is the same with knowing that God calls us by name. He created us, we are made by his very breath and workmanship. Because of that He loves us. It is like when we make or create something – we have an affection for it. And God knows each of us by name and knows how many hairs are on our head. He says, “You are mine.” How do you feel when you think about God calling you by your own name and knowing you as an individual? It feels warm and cozy to me. There are few people in my life who are close enough and dear enough that I would call them Beloved, yet God calls us His Beloved. Perhaps it is the most endearing name of all. Does it resonate with you? It makes me feel like I am dripping in love. God nicknamed Peter, the Rock, because He was getting ready to build His church on the testimonies and work of Peter. You see? God loves nicknames, too. And He gives us new names when we begin new parts of life. He changed Arbram’s name to Abraham, and Saul’s name to Paul as each of them began new journeys in their lives.
Yes, my mother gave me the name Kimberly because she thought it was beautiful. She has told me how it was quite sad when my brother could not pronounce it when I was born and he began calling me Krumberly, which is far from beautiful. That was the beginning of the end of me being known as Kimberly, until now. I am re-establishing the use of the name Kimberly as a tribute to my mom. I would like to wear well the name she gave me. This does not mean that I will be laying aside all of the pet names that people call me, rather that I would like to bring Kimberly to the forefront. How about you? As life has gone along, have you laid aside names that you would like to revive? Now may be a good time to breath new life into those names. Or perhaps you would like to know more about how God cares for you enough to call you Beloved? If so, I would love to talk with you about His great love. ~ With grace & peace, Kimberly