Monday, February 17, 2014

What's in a Name?

by Susan Harris


A few weeks ago a domain-naming website released the results of a poll it had undertaken to determine the virtues associated with common first names. I giggled when I scanned the top ones identified for marriage material.

The only female I know with the #1 appellation on the list, Katie, is not married. Barring an acquaintance who nicknamed herself Sophie, I know zero women with moniker #2. But self-named Sophie is a good wife. My closest friend from church back in Trinidad has name #3. She too is unmarried. Disillusioned with the female list, and telling myself that it mattered not that my names were absent, I headed over to the men's.
Any potential resentment evaporated as soon as I discovered my husband's names did not make the Top 10 either. David, Andrew, and Daniel basked in the coveted ranks.  I know two Davids: one is a great husband; the other, dubious, if his wife's account when she came for counselling is true.  I concede defeat in knowing any matrimonially-tied Andrew. And good sense prevailed in leaving #3 uncontested, having been out of touch with my charming cousin, a now-married Daniel.

As the giggles subsided, I turned inwards. Reflective. Solemn. Like Pavlov's dogs my reason for being attracted to this random-naming clip on the Internet was because of conditioning. An inner conditioning over the last four years. Since the morning on my birthday when I dreamt three computer screens mounted on a wall of my living room. The instructions: PICK ONE.
I touched the middle screen and a lily appeared.  

Lily. The meaning of a Hebrew name.
My name. Susan.  

That year I searched the Scriptures for 'lily' and latched on to the message from Jesus's urging in Matthew 6:28-34.

In nearly every company I've been employed, I brought the work home on a regular basis. Nights spent preparing for the next day, weekends pre-occupied with what laid ahead. Always hustling, sometimes exciting, generally learning new things, yet in a paradoxical perplexing way, stifling my creativity. And haltingly I came to realize that when the core of Genesis is suffocated, even a salary with the right number of zeroes could lose its lustre.
Over and over my name keeps resurfacing, ever present in my thoughts, reassuring me of God's guarantees. No need for a human poll to affirm its virtues.

That birthday was the last in which I laboured for an employer. Now I work full-time as a writer, and I'm enamoured with my career.

The lily on the screen was a white one. An appropriate emblem for my new company. White Lily Press published Little Copper Pennies for Kids, the book that has grossed the highest sales of the three I've written.
My work is busy, it demands discipline, and it's hard at times. But it is not toil. 
The lily does not toil… Susan does not toil.
I have an unshakeable conviction that the Lord wants me to live easy, peacefully, worry-free. Because of the message in my name.
What is the message in yours?

(An excerpt from Remarkably Ordinary - 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are  ©Susan Harris. Coming in March from White Lily Press.)  
Coming in March from Borealis Press - Little Copper Pennies for Kids and Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the Life of the Canadian one-cent piece.
Susan is also the author of Golden Apples in Silver Settings. Find her at:


Janis Cox said...

Very interesting post Susan.
I think my name means "grace" but haven't checked for a long while. Will do so now.

Susan Harris said...

I became curious as to the meaning of your name, Janis, so I checked it out. In Hebrew it means "Gift from God." And I can attest that your friendship is a gift, as is your art. Keep on giving.

Peter Black said...

Thank you, Susan, for sharing your musings on that website's "virtues associated with common first names."
I especially like your own story of your dream and the "Susan" - "Lily" application, from the teaching of our Lord. ~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

I believe that dream came from the Lord, Peter. I'm not a dreamer nor the offspring of one, but I truly sensed the Lord was directing me through His Word and my name, and the connection with both. Thanks for taking the time to encourage me, and I'm thinking of your own name's meaning, the Rock. Blessings on the rest of the day.

Kimberley Payne said...

Interesting post! I had a lot of fun researching names when I wrote my novel. Thanks for sharing.

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