King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived eloquently states in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
A name. What’s in a name and why is it so important to have a ‘good’ name? Have you ever seriously thought about that? What about your name? Is there any significance to your name? And what about all the other names that people call you or that you answer to? Do they bear any significance/resemblance to who you are or who you are becoming?
And you’re asking, “Susan where are you going with these questions on this good first Friday in December 2019”. Well, I’ll tell you and then you can decide whether what I’ve said warrants further consideration.
I was ‘minding my own business’ on Facebook when I came across Ms Gabrielle Leonard of Events and Marketing Studio. She was talking about making a personal name change earlier when she had just started her business. I pulled the brakes on my browsing because I was like, “What name change is Gabrielle talking about now?”. I only know her as Gabrielle. So, my interest was piqued, and I continued to watch.
You see, I knew Gabrielle as a little girl in the British Virgin Islands and as I said before I only knew her as Gabrielle. Every time I see her now, I marvel at what an accomplished woman she has developed into. As a matter of fact, in 2018 when I began to seriously think about rebranding and leveling up ‘my business’ (which is still a work in progress), I hit Gabrielle up. We caught up and I left the conversation feeling like I had let the ball drop, but that there was still hope. She provided me with the name of one of her clients who is a book coach and the rest is history. History that was made on 17th July, 2019 – the date my first book, A Helper Suitable was published.
In essence, Gabrielle was saying that it was necessary for her to change her name at that time in her life, because she was changing. She had done some personal work, and in order for her life, both personal and professional, to reflect the inner changes, she needed to change her name. You might be saying that it doesn’t take all of that, but I am inclined to agree with her one hundred percent.
I signed off from her broadcast and my curious nature got the better of me, so I consulted Google for the meaning of Gabrielle. Most of the results agreed that Gabrielle means “God Is My Strength” and her testimony confirms that she believes that. Now why wouldn’t anyone want that empowering statement to be pronounced over them every day?
Before I continue though, I would like to say emphatically that I believe that every name, be it a common or proper name, has significance. Which brings the discussion to me. I was christened E Susanna Best, and everyone either called me Susan or Susie from preschool up to Primary School. I was happy with the name Susanna except when the village teasers, who were also school mates, would sing ‘Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me’ which would result in me crying anyway…all the way home.
And then it all changed when I entered Secondary School. All of a sudden, I had to be called by my names as they appeared on my birth certificate and in the order as they appeared. I was not happy because, again the school children told me that my name, which I thought was my second name, was an old lady’s name.
I became an adult and would hide my first name. That was until I needed something to hold on to. Something to help me to feel good about myself. Therefore, in a moment of desperation, I researched both my names and found out that the meanings were both beautiful and empowering. That was the beginning of me reversing in my mind and my disposition all the negative things that I had come to believe about myself.
The thing is, I knew that names were significant, so I was very careful about the names that I gave my son. Yet I didn’t apply the same philosophy to myself until the day I needed to believe something good about myself. I felt that knowing what my names meant would give me some kind of impetus to be.
So, for those who are wondering, my names as they appear on my original birth certificate are Eunice Susanna Best. I later applied for a name change and switched them around to Susanna Eunice Best. I did that because I love the sound of Susanna and it is what most people have called me up until now. Well they actually call me a derivative of Susanna, which is Susan.
For as long as I can remember myself, I have loved flowers. We would be walking to church and I would stop to smell the flowers that we would pass on the way – scented or unscented – it didn’t matter. I’m in my middle age and I still do that. Every time I smell a flower, I can hear my mom saying, “one of these days you’re gonna inhale a bug’, to which I would smile of course.
Both my names are Biblical. Susanna was a wealthy woman who took care of Jesus and his disciples when they came through her town; and Eunice was a faithful woman of God and Timothy’s mother. Susanna means ‘lily’ or ‘rose’. A flower that loves flowers. Did you see that? Go figure. Eunice means ‘good victory’, ‘joyous victory’, or ‘she conquers’. And ‘Best’? Don’t get me started on how it took me all of 50 years to embrace what it means to have a surname like that. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Where I sit today, I have one regret, and it is, that I had not allowed more people to call me by my first name. I most likely would have experienced more victories in my life, where I’ve seen failures. Plus, it would have over time, in a shorter amount of time, helped me to recognize the indomitable soul that I am. But I’m good. I have come to embrace both my names and Eunice actually sounds beautiful when it’s pronounced by someone who speaks Spanish. So, call me Eunice as much as you like. Smile
Which brings me to the crux of the matter. Would you agree with me that words have life and that names are words? Yes. Therefore, if names are words and words have life, then whenever your name is called, a pronouncement is made. In the same token, if you are called by a negative, common word, that person is making a pronouncement over you, especially if you accept it or just shrug it off as people being people. Note that once its pronounced and released into the air, it’s been given life unless you reject it immediately.
According to Joyce E A Russell, a contributor to The Washington Post, in her article entitled Career Coach: The Power of Using a Name, “A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person. It is the one way we can easily get someone’s attention. It is a sign of courtesy and a way of recognizing them”.
Pssst! Yes you. Tell me. Why would you answer to a name that does not resonate with who you are or where you want to go? Why would you answer to ‘bad’, ‘crazy’ and some of the other really unsavory words that I hear people calling one another, in jest? Are you really bad or crazy? Is that how you feel about yourself?
What about you parents? Why are you calling your children dumb and stupid? Why are you telling them that they will never amount to anything? Can’t you see that you are reaping the fruit of such pronouncements when your child really begins to behave unruly. Why not take a deep breath when you become angry, calm yourself down and call them what you would really like them to be? It is not easy, but its possible. And practice makes permanent.
Our words are prophetic, or they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Words have life. And since names are words, they hold the ability to create whatever we say. Let us pull the reins on our words today. Let us make better pronouncements over ourselves and our loved ones. Let us accept the goodness of our names and fiercely reject those names that do not reflect who we are or where we are going.
I remember something we used to say as kids when our names would be called so often, we’d get fed-up. “That’s my name. Don’t wear it out”. Well today, I reverse that and say, “Call my name. Wear it out”, because in calling my name you are pronouncing who I am in the world and I endorse that message.
What’s in a name? Everything. Your identity. Your potential. Your future. No amount of money can erase a bad name or the effects of it. Be careful what you allow people to call you. Only answer to who you know you are because it dictates who you become and where you are going.
“A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:20-21).