Friday, June 18, 2010

What's In A Name?

Do you like your name?
Is it a family name, or did your parents just like the sound of it?

Names are important. Almost twenty years ago, when I first started looking up baby names for the little sprout in my womb, I wanted to pick a good one.
I knew how important it was. For my entire childhood, I dreaded the first week of school. Seems like every year the teacher would butcher my last name. How hard could it be to pronounce the word Skaggs? Yet they always managed.
Rebecca Scabs.
Yes, Scabs. Or Scrags or Snags. Scalawags, once, when a doofus gym teacher felt like being funny.
Kids would giggle and my face would turn red.
On my first day of high school, a girl laughed so hard at my name that she fell out of her chair.

I grew to dislike my family name, which filled me with all kinds of shame and guilt.
How could I not like my own last name? The name attached to the people I loved most?
I talked to Mom about the teasing and she comforted me, but how could she really understand? She and Daddy had grown up in a town where the name Skaggs was more common than Smith or Jones.

Eventually I grew less self conscious, but occasionally, when I wasn't expecting it, the response to my name still stung. Like the time a favorite English teacher signed my yearbook, "To Becky, the beautiful young woman whose name is so wrong."
My name wasn't wrong. It was just fine.

I grew up, and eventually I became a Ramsey. And four years later, grew a little Ramsey who needed a name. Someone gave me a baby name book that gave the meanings of each name, and guess which name I looked up first.
Surely, after all I'd gone through, Rebecca must mean princess, or maybe light or beauty or kindness.
I found the page.
REBECCA, REBEKAH: one who ensnares.
I was Ensnarer Skaggs Ramsey.

I didn't want to believe it, but the meaning kind of made sense. After all, Rebekah was the mom in Genesis who dressed up her favorite son Jacob in goat skin, trying to trick her hubby Isaac into giving Jacob his birthright, instead of his hairy twin Esau.
Rebekah ensnared him. She was a trickster. Besides that, what kind of mother favors one son over another? I had to share her name?

But then a few weeks ago, I found something that stunned me.
Somehow, all these years, I'd missed the scripture that explains that while Rebekah was pregnant, God said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."

So when Esau was born first and Jacob second, she remembered God's words. Esau will serve Jacob. Jacob must have the birthright. It's part of God's plan.
Rebekah was tricky for a holy reason: to ensure that God's message was followed!
Twenty years after my first search in the baby book for Rebekah, I wanted to know more. Google to the rescue!

"The name denotes merely a tying up of cattle, both for their own protection, the establishment of their home and to keep them from wandering off. Within this name lies the notion that individuals are placed together by something higher or smarter than they.
The name Rebekah literally means Tied Up but more specific (and more friendly) is Secured."

Rebekah was the one securing God's promise. This changed everything. How I love my name.

How do you feel about your name? Do you know what it means? Do share!

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!
Love, Becky


Susie said...

Growing up, I never liked being named Susie because it was so routine for girls my age. As I have gotten older I have gone through phases where I thought I should try Susan to have my name agree with my age more. But now,at almost 50 I think it is keeping me young and so funny to think of Granny Susie. The name Susan means Lily, which I think is an entirely cool secretly I am Lily!

Andrea said...

I HATED my name growing up. My name is spelled the same way as Andrea, but it is pronounced On-dre-uh. I will take partial blame in not helping the situation because I stopped writing the accent over the A (A'ndrea) when I was in school so people used to call me Ann-dree-uh all the time! To make matters worse, they butchered my last name too! I was always so jealous that my sisters had "normal" names-Kim & Lisa. I am the middle child and my name is the only one my dad picked out. What I didn't know is that my sisters were completely jealous of my name. They had their "ordinary" names. I must admit that now, I like my name. I want to start adding the accent back in so that it's pronounced correctly. I also feel special that my dad picked my name and not my sisters' names. Funny how things change and you grow to like something you once hated.

Laura said...

Aw...secured. That's lovely -- so much more so than ensnared. What a great post.

You've inspired me to do some research into my name!

(To On-re-uh above -- I know. I'm Law-ra, not Lor-a, and half the population pronounces it the second way!)

Sandra Heska King said...

Sandra. Shortened form of Alexandra. Meaning defender or helper of mankind. I found that out after I became a nurse.

I always hated my middle name, Lee. Could they at least not spell it more elegantly--like Leigh.

I have a new grandgirl. Her daddy's name is Lee. Her name is Lillee, as in Li'l Lee. I like Lee.

And now, because of a typo, people call me Snady. Grandma Snady. One of a kind. :)

Felicity said...

I love my name. When it became the title of a popular tv show (two, actually, one with Kerri Russel and cute boys and the other based on books by L.M. Montgomery), more people began to recognize it. Recently a 20-something girl asked me if I was named after the TV show with Kerri Russel. Oh my. When Meg Ryan says my name in YOU'VE GOT MAIL, it is almost shocking to my ears!

Felicity means happiness and I've always loved that connotation. I also love that my sisters are Serenity and Charity. Big potential for cheesiness here, but I think we escape it most of the time.

Ironically, I gave my daughters short and more common names. Claire Felicity, Ada Jewel, and Macy Cheri (that's after her grandmother and it is pronounced shu-REE). Our baby girl already in Heaven is Ellery Blythe. We choose names based on a combination of meaning and the way they sounded. Claire, our miracle baby, is truly a "brilliant, shining light" and Ada, something of a surprise just 15 months younger than Claire, is our "beautiful addition." Don't tell Macy, but we just liked the sound of her name! I'm sure we'll get a great definition soon. : )

castaway said...

Thomas Paul are my two names ... not sure why or how, but I never really gave it much thought until I went to seminary and became a Presbyterian minister (many centuries ago) - and it's served me well: Thomas the doubter and Paul the believer - both pulling and pushing around in my soul.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Susie,you know I love your name. Saying it makes me happy, probably because it says who you are to me-fun, witty, creative, smart. I look forward to knowing a Granny Susie, many years from now, of course! :)

A'ndrea, I've always thought that's a beautiful name. When I don't know how a name like yours is pronounced, I usually wait to hear someone else say it. It feels good to have your name said the right way. How nice to know that your dad picked it just for you. He had good taste, I think!

"Law-ra," I've you live in the South? Seems like Southerners are more likely to say Lawra than Lorra. Both are pretty.

Sandra, how cool that your name fits your profession. I think it's great how your grandgirl got her name. It's fun to pass names down in interesting ways. And special names for grandparents are the best. In our family, we have grandmas named Honey and Mama Judy, and granddads named Papa and Granddaddy Yes.

Felicity, I love your and your sisters' names. I know that you're a happy person, and Serenity is peaceful, but I don't know your sister. Does her name fit as well? Your daughters have beautiful, poetic names. My daughter Sarah is named after my grandma Sarah Mae. My granddaddy used to pronounce it Surrey. I love those connections with the past.

Thomas Paul, I love the pull and push of your names. How perfect for you. Susie and I were talking today about whether our names influence how we are treated and what we become. It's so interesting to me.

Leah Skaggs said...

Ah dear one... you do ensnare... with words you woo us from our work and we are trapped and laughing and crying and always feeling better than before we read your work! Keep it up.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Aw, thanks for the encouragement, Leah. And by the way, I like both your names!

Leah Skaggs said...

My name means weak eyed... weak eyed scraggs. snicker.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

I have always loved my name, Rebecca. It drew lots of attention after The Police came out with their hit son, Roxanne. Many guys sang this song to me in my day; consider that I was in choir for many of my early years. :) It means "Dawn of day." (Love that!) But my last name means just as much. Beauclair: "beautiful and clear." My sister's name is Camille. Our father named us after French women in literature to match our last name. I was named after the heroine in "Cyrano de Bergerac." I kept my last name as my legal middle name but I've missed it through the years as a last name. Recently, I've decided to name my freelance business "Beauclair Communications." I'm really excited about this for many reasons. I didn't have brothers and my father is a writer, too. I feel I will be honoring much about my history by having this as my business name. Wow, this is long, but I feel very passionately about the subject. As such, I took great care in naming our children. I wanted them to have names they'd love as well. Christian, Olivia, Elizabeth, Adam and Nicholas. I hope I chose well. :) I hope they will be as happy with their names as I have been with mine. I love the name Rebecca because it is another beautiful "R" name. :)

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

What a wonderful post! I remember being pained by my name more than a few times as I grew up. I eventually learned to love and appreciate the care with which my parents selected it.
And btw, Jacob's name means "supplanter," as he was equally involved in the plot that deceived his brother into giving up his birthright. God eventually gave Jacob a new name, Israel, part of the fulfilment of His covenant with Abraham, and the nation of Israel was begun (Israel means, "ruling with God!")

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

Becky, this post gave me chills and brought me tears. What a story. Oh, I love it.

Thanks for your visit to my place today - it is nice to "meet" you! said...

What a great story! I mean, the happy ending part about what Rebeccah really means (not the bad memories from your last name!). Although Ricky Scaggs made it big with that name, didn't he?

I never had any problems with my name growing up - it was kind of plain, which is a good thing. There were plenty of other problems I had to deal with!

Kathy said...

This is a beautiful post. Thank you for showing us what a difference can be found if we just dig a little deeper into things. I'm the mother of Felicity, Serenity, and Charity. And, yes, daughter number three is full of love. I'd like to take creative writer credit for their names, but their dad started the trend. He had Felicity's name picked out long before I married him. It has been lovely watching them grow into their names.

Graceful said...

I am like you...hated my last name when I was growing up because it was constantly mispronounced: DeRoooosha, DeRushka. It's pronounced De-Russia.

But I grew to love it -- I even kept it when I married my husband!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Roxane, I'm singing your name. And Beauclair Communications sounds perfect. Very cool way to honor your family name and story. I love your kids' names as well. Sarah's middle name is Elizabeth, just because I've always liked it.

Cathy, the names in Bible stories-like Jacob and Esau-are so interesting. My favorite of late? Adam. It comes from adama, Hebrew for earth. So Adam really means Earthling or Dustling. Or my favorite version, Mud man. Ever since I read this I can't stop thinking about it. It puts a whole new face on the story for me.

Kelly, it's great to meet you too! Thanks for coming by! I look forward to getting to know you better!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

S.Camel, every kid struggles with something, don't they?
And my granddaddy once told me that Ricky Skaggs is distantly related to me. He's from the same part of Kentucky, so how about that!

Kathy, that is so cool that the girls fulfilled their names. But of course they did. Just knowing them the little bit I do, it's easy to see that there's a big river of love running through the veins of your family tree!
I love that your hubby had Felicity picked out! I bet that makes her feel really special!

Michelle, I hear you, but your last name really is pretty. Life can be a bit tough for kids with names that aren't super easy to read. When I started teaching, I made a real effort to study my class lists before day one of school. I tried my best not to butcher the names, but I'm sure it happened sometimes.

Kat said...

I have always loved my name, Kathryn, but did not like being called Kathy (as my whole family always called me. Luckily, most people I know now (except for my family) call me Kathryn.
Kathryn means Pure One. And I alway loved that. It made me feel special. :)

My mom almost named me Rebecca, by the way. :)

Doug said...

I always thought the last name Dahl was hard as a young boy. But I found it a great last name for our girls now all grown up. Everyone laughs when that say, "What a Doll." And I go, "Yes, she really is."

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Pure one, Kathryn is lovely. I also like Kat. It seems to fit the playful part of you.

Doug, I love that. I hope the girls enjoy being living Dahls! And you share your name with Roald, the famous author.

Susan said...

Sorry I'm late commenting here. Names...My mother hated her middle name, so she refused to give my sister and me middle names. That caused enough confusion, because it the south no middle name (NMN) is almost frowned upon. My sister and I made up middle names for years. Don't even get me started on my last names. Another story all together.
I love my name Susan, which is from Susannah, Hebrew for lily. My husband and his brothers all have strong Biblical names. Only fitting that I would marry a Timothy, as my mother's name was Lois.