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My Name, My Destiny?

Posted by Priscilla on September 24, 2013

name.jpgI love Carol Bly, the author of Beyond the Writers’ Workshop.  In the middle of a discussion on the importance of learning to do things with our hands, she says this: “Ancientness itself is healing.”


My first name happens to mean “ancient.” And I have often wished to have a healing influence on others, to use my words to bring health and life to others. When I read Bly’s words, they stopped me in my tracks. Weirdly enough, something began to flower deep inside. That’s it, I thought. That’s who I am.  My name actually is my destiny.

In our modern, American society, we don’t often think about the connection between our names and our identity or between our names and our destiny. We pick names for our children because we like the sound of them, or because they are popular, or because some boy we liked in third grade carried the name. Some of us even make up names by putting unusual sounds together. We avoid names that remind us of people we don’t like. Sure, we scour baby name books and choose names with positive meanings, but very few of us are aware that the name we confer onto a newborn baby may, just may, have something to do with who that baby is and what that baby becomes. Studies have repeatedly shown that names, like other words, carry all sorts of baggage. Some of these connotations come from the sound of the name, while others come from our history with the name. In any case, our perception of a person is formed by his or her name.

In older societies, and in non-Western cultures today, the power of the name is recognized. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham and the power was released for him to become the father of many nations.  Israel’s God stepped in at times to order a particular name. He was setting the identity and the destiny of the child into motion. Japanese parents work long and hard to make sure that the name they choose means the right thing when written, that the characters in combination don’t carry any weak or bad connotation.

Sometimes a name is too mature for a child. The child must become an adult before the name works. Howard is one of those names. Guardian. The strength of that name is almost too much for a child to bear. But what an identity, when he finally can carry the name. What a life-giving force when he fulfills his destiny.

The very first blessing a parent gives his child is when he speaks identity and destiny into him by naming him.  Every good word from parent to child after that only builds on this first foundation.

I have no idea what this means for the writer. I have already written about picking names with care. Perhaps today I want to say, “Bless your characters. Never forget that they, too, need validation. They, too, need to know who they are and what they are to become.”

How has your name shaped you? How are the names of your characters shaping them?



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