Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Importance of a Name

My granddaughter's Baptism, where she was given the common Christian name, Lucy, with common spelling.
All my life I have struggled with my name, "Faith."  From childhood to adulthood, I hated my name.  It made me a shy child.  It made me different.  And as a child, that's not a good thing.  I remember as a Brownie Girl Scout, knocking on doors to sell my cookies, and people yelling from inside, "Who is it?"  I would answer, "Faith."  They's say, "Who?"  I'd repeat, "Faith, even louder."  They'd repeat louder, "Who?"  (In fact, this happens today, too.)  People never understood what I was saying.  So I tended to not enter into situations that would possibly involve people asking my name.

I know as an adult, you're probably thinking, "but I like different names".  That may be nice to read a pretty sounding name, as a character in a book, but in reality, living with a different name can be a burden.  It makes me wonder about the intelligence of parents who give their babies different names.  Don't they think?  Rather, what are they thinking?  Certainly, not about the child!  Don't they realize that they are assigning their child to a lifetime of giving their name--numerous times, explaining their name, spelling their name, and maybe even ridicule?

One reason for a parent giving a child a name that is different, and which I think is despicable is, "I like it."
How selfish can you get?  "I like it!"   Not a thought given to the child.  "I..." !!!!!!!

May God forgive your selfish, egoistic, affected, self-centered, self-interest, self-seeking, self-regarding thoughtlessness; because your child may not.

The same prayer also holds true to those (selfish, egoistic, affected, self-centered, self-interest, self-seeking, self-regarding thoughtless) parents who change the spelling of a common name to make it different.  They have just burdened their child with a weird name--every blasted time they say their name, they have to include the spelling.  I know many of these parents.  And the reason they give for changing the spelling of a common name is precisely to make it different.  Yes, that's the reason.  Believe it.  Again, they are not thinking of what they are doing to the child; they liked it.

All my life I have been on this rant.  People with common names have no clue how serious I am.  A person's name can shape the personality of that person.  I know first hand--it made me shy.  Since most people have ordinary names, they think I'm exaggerating.  I remember the first speech I gave at Toastmaster's was on this subject.  A first speech in Toastmaster's is an introduction of oneself.  I was too shy to talk about me, so I took the focus off me and talked about nomenclature, in general.  The speech turned into a similar sort of rant, like this post.  You know what happened?  They laughed at me.  Yes, they thought I was giving a humorous speech!  I even told them to stop laughing because I was serious.  Yes, all those "Johns and Anns" could not relate.

When I went to college, I thought I'd be rid of the name.  I went by "F. Donna."   That's my first initial and middle name.  I got the idea from F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It worked.  But!  I then had to explain what the "F" stood for.  When people heard that "F" stood for "Faith," I was subjected to being reprimanded for being ashamed of a pretty name, for dishonoring my parents for not using that name, to the usual jokes about the name "Faith,"  yada the point of my feeling silly for wanting to change "Faith" to "Donna".  It was silly.  It backfired.  It caused me more embarrassment.  

Interestingly, I dropped that affected "F. Donna," on the advice of my manager.  We were real estate brokers.  He said that no one would remember Donna.  People would be more likely to remember Faith, and in Real Estate, you want to be remembered, so people will think of you when they want to sell or buy property.  Since I regretted the "F. Donna," change, anyway, I welcomed the chance to go back to my given name.

Recently, two happenstances have occurred to bring these hurtful remembrances to the forefront.  One is an audio book, and the other is Pope Benedict XVI's homily on the Feast of Epiphany.

I am listening to Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs. The major character is Louis Charles Lynch.  Unfortunately, his life took a turn when his kindergarten teacher read his name as "Louis C."  From then on, Lou became known as "Lucy."  If I were in graduate school, I'd write my dissertation on how the nickname, "Lucy," helped to shape the life of this child, Louis C. Lynch, and  even continued to determine his adulthood.  But I'm not writing a dissertation, so I just listen and empathize.

I realize that the parents of Louis C. did not purposely give their son a name that set him up for ridicule.  **it happens.  But my point is the importance of names, and this novel is an excellent example.

The other circumstance was the homily the Pope gave when he baptized 21 babies of Vatican employees.
In his homily, B16 recommended that people give their children distinctively Christian names because in today's denigration of family culture, kids need all the help they can get. A patron saint will aid the child to grow in faith, and hopefully inspire the child to live up to Christian ideals.

While, I certainly can see where B16 is coming from, I must add my own codicil.  I recommend parents give their children common Christian names.  (Reread my first few paragraphs if you don't remember why.)

I know what of I speak.  I have a Christian name, and that Christian name, for most of my life, has caused me problems.  As a child, it caused embarrassment.  As a teenager, ridicule.  As an adult, sometimes embarrassment, sometimes ridicule, sometimes attention,  all of it unwanted.

There are two other people in the world with my name--at least on Facebook.  We've connected (Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg).  In commiserating about our name, we listed the jokes we've heard, i.e.,  "Do you have two sisters named Hope and Charity?".  It was a sad list.  It's not funny to me.  I fail to see the humor in ridicule.  Although, I understand that most people don't intend to be hurtful.  "Oh Lord, forgive them.  They know not what they do."  (Luke 23:34)

All because of a name.

Names are important.  Parents think of the child; not what you like--the child, the child, the child!  A name can influence a person's life.

And you want to know the kicker?  My name has nothing to do with Christianity, nor religion, and definitely not God.  My father gave me the name "Faith," with hopes that I would believe in nothing--except myself.

I guess I showed him.

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1 comment:

Faith said...

My name "Faith" is a hard one to pronounce in languages other than English because other languages don't have the "th" sound. Neither of my two grandmothers could pronounce my name. To my French Canadian grandmother I was "Fate." To my Lithuanian grandmother I was "Face."

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