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Saturday, August 3, 2013

What's In A Name?


There is tremendous pressure in naming a child. The first-born may be slightly easier since there are family namesakes to consider or that one name you've dreamed of your entire life. But then you remember you're married and he thinks he gets an opinion too. Drat.

Our newest addition is named Eyob. It means "Job."  Bible names are extremely common in Ethiopia and in fact, we met other Eyobs while we were there.

It's an interesting debate whether to give him an American name to go by or to keep his Ethiopian name.  I could make a case either way.  In our university town ethnic names are on every street.  And as I joked with a friend of mine yesterday (who subs in the local high school) someone who pronounces her name Carrie is just as likely to spell it something like Xahryes. (Hard "x" and the "s" being silent, of course.)

I found it difficult enough to name our birth kids. For me, someone who reads a ton and has a thing for lyrics, it was very important to have a name that rolled off the tongue naturally. It has to SOUND like it goes together.  With a last name like Arnold, many German, Danish or Austrian first names connected. Not so much Irish, Czech, Asian or let's say....Ethiopian.

I also wonder (or should I say worry?) about our little guy having to adjust to many, many things in his life as that black kid in the white family. Will he want to explain his name every time he's introduced to someone new? A veteran adoptive family said, "You just teach him to say, 'That's my Ethiopian name.'" Could it be that easy?

My name, Kristin, means Christ-follower. Did my parents know that when they named me? I don't know. Was it a hope they had for my life? I don't know. But it has turned out to be true.

The first lines of the Book of Job say this: "Job was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion."

Yes, we want that said of all our children.

Later, in the Book of James (written by Jesus' half-brother,) he is encouraging the Jewish Christians to be patient when treated unjustly. The Message version says it this way: "Take the old prophets as your mentors, they put up with anything, went through everything and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You've heard, of course, of Job's staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him in the end. That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail." 

Is a name considered a detail? 

The staying power of Job. Bible scholars or not, we've all heard of the "patience of Job."  No one has ever heard of the "patience of Kristin." Maybe that's one of the things our Little Man will get from his Ethiopian Mom.

Everyone keeps asking if we will keep Eyob's name or give him an American name to go by. We, truthfully, haven't decided. (Well, I've decided and Brian's decided, we just haven't decided the same thing, yet!) GRIN.

If we keep it as Eyob, then may it come with a prayer that he will be honest inside and out, a man of his word, who is totally devoted to God and hates evil with a passion. A man who doesn't quit. A man with staying power.

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