Checking In: What’s in a Name?

Today I decided to open to 1 Chronicles… I have no idea why.

1 Chronicles begins with nine chapters of names. This careful record is, to be honest, boring to read. It’s certainly helpful to look over the genealogies when you encounter a character in later chapters or books, but just reading them is hard.

I know from studying Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament) that words are more significant than we could possibly imagine. A child’s name, for example, was meant to shape their entire future / reality, which is why Naomi wants to change her name to Mara (from “pleasant” to “bitter”) after the death of her husband and two sons:

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21).

“Naomi” did not fit her reality, but “Mara” did.

The name can also foreshadow what the person will encounter. Moses, for example, gets his name because Pharaoh’s daughter drew him out of the Nile in Exodus 2. The waters that were meant to kill Moses instead brought him life, and we know from his story that this is the first of many instances where God “draws him out.”

My name, Audrey, means “noble strength.” While I wouldn’t always describe myself as “noble” or “strong,” and while my parents didn’t give me that name because of its meaning, it is still something I aspire to be. My assigned-for-the-purposes-of-classroom-shenanigans Hebrew name is Liphnei Adonai, meaning “in the presence of the Lord” or “before the face of the Lord.” I love that name because it describes where I always want to be.

Names give us a context or purpose – a way to check in with how we’re doing.

[side note: “Audrey” really resonates with my healthy 7 energy. When I’m in a good place, I’m grounded / patient / honest / persistent / honorable. When I’m not in a good place, I care more about flippant and impulsive decisions that give immediate, and quite temporary, relief].

As I read all the names in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles, I wondered about the promises / hopes hidden in the names. I thought of my own name and checked in with myself…

Self, she thought to herself, how are we doing?

Where are we noble / where are we not?

Where are we strong / where are we not?

Where are we fine with that / where are we not?

Happy Tuesday! Don’t forget to check in with yourself.

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Author: aedewaard12

Wife. Pastor. M.Div. Reformed. Feminist. Runner. Enneagram Activist. Mediocre Writer. Lover of the Bible. People call me Aud (it suits me).

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