I thought it was so neat when the main character, Jody, in the novel, The Yada Yada Prayer Group, would give a birthday card to the woman in her prayer group celebrating her special day. Jodi always wrote out the meaning of the woman’s name in the card as a special way of celebrating her.
I thought about the significance of names. In my family, my mother’s name, Sophie, means wisdom. She named my sister, Judy which means praise. I named my daughter Amy, which means beloved and my daughter, Carrie means strength. This name stuff reminded me of studies I attended years ago of Women in the Bible. It always amazed me how my teacher would feature a character and explain the meaning of the person’s name. I’ll never forget studying Naomi and how she named her sons, Mahlon which means sickly and Chillon which means puny. What kind of parent would name their kids like that?
When I learned the meaning of my name, I wanted to hide under the covers for the rest of my life. My mother named me Mary, a Hebrew name which means bitterness. Yikes! That’s worse than puny and sickly, Naomi’s boys. Oh, but then I remembered Jesus and how he walked the earth changing people’s names and calling them forth to what they could be. Was there hope for me? I asked him if He would change my name. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Remember when He changed Peter’s name from Simon to Cephas?
About two weeks later, I got an email that seemed to drop forth from heaven. In my email inbox was the day’s Girlfriends in God devotional written by Mary Southerland. She wrote a beautiful piece about the meaning of Psalm 40:2-3:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
Mary shared times she’d been in the pit in her life and how God rescued her from depression. When somebody asked her recently if she is totally set free, she responded this way: “I have asked God to take this struggle out of my life but he said no. Why? I don’t pretend to know all the reasons, but I do know that my name, Mary, means “bitter, but when broken, sweet”. She went on to say how her battle keeps her broken, close to God depending on him. So that’s what the authentic meaning is of my Hebrew name! As soon as I finished her devotional, I wrote Mary and she wrote me back! Praise the Lord!
I like my name now! I’ve been resurrected from under the covers. Jesus called me forth. Now I understand that in my brokenness, I’m dependent on Him. It is good that He keeps me humble and useful for His kingdom.
Do you know the meaning of your name? I hope you feel special today.
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