Have you ever met someone and thought that their name was so fitting for their personality? This is a story of how I grew into the name I was given. It’s a story for all of us, because I believe you, too, have a name that is uniquely yours!
I grew up being called by my middle name. The story goes that my great grandmother gave my mom $5 to name me Mary in order to keep with tradition. My mom’s name was Mary. My grandmother’s name was Mary. My great grandmother’s name was Mary. My aunt on my dad’s side of the family was a Mary. I even had a sister-in-law named Mary! All those Marys and we weren’t even Catholic!
Like most of the Marys in my family, I grew up being called by my middle name instead. I even knew the meaning of my middle name because my mom hung a plaque in my room with it on there, along with an associated scripture. “Lisa” (a derivative of Elisabeth) means “Consecrated One”, “devoted to God”, and the scripture was Lamentations 3:24. It was a meaning I didn’t fully understand as a child but I absolutely loved knowing this about myself.
When I was in my early twenties and dreaming of having my own family, I used to peruse baby name books from time to time, and it was then I learned the meaning of my first name, Mary. At the time I was looking at the Hebrew translation, which comes from two verbs (mara and marar) and means either “obstinacy” (or rebellious) and “myrrh” (bitter or strong). Ugh! So I was not happy with the meaning of my first name for a long time. I just did not see myself at the time as bitter, was not willing to admit how rebellious I really was, and didn’t yet see myself as strong. Plus I didn’t yet realize the bitter/strong part wasn’t necessarily referring to the personality of one, but to the “bitter cup” they may have to drink.
Myrrh is a burial spice and is often associated with Jesus. Not only was it one of the three gifts presented to him as a toddler, we also know that Nicodemus, together with Joseph of Arimathea, after having taken the body of Jesus to lay Him in the tomb, bound His body with linen and spices that included a mixture of myrrh and aloes (see John 19:38-40).
Knowing this, I was compelled to see if myrrh may have been included in the nard that Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) used it to anoint the feet of Jesus in preparation for His burial, but I wasn’t seeing any evidence for this. I still love this story, though, because the fact that she did this in preparation for His burial must have been direct a revelation granted specifically to her by the Holy Spirit (see John 12:1-8). No one sitting at that table knew yet that Jesus was about to be crucified. Knowing how close Mary was to Jesus, that she loved Him and preferred sitting at His feet, it seemed fitting to me somehow that the Holy Spirit would share this special nugget of information with her.
One last thing about the name Mary is that its a derivative of the name Miriam, and likely got it’s etymology from Moses’ sister, Miriam. Because we know Miriam was born and raised in Egypt then it helped me to learn of the Egyptian meaning for Miriam, which is “beloved daughter”. What I love most about this meaning (not only as it applies to Miriam, sister of Moses, but also to Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, or others) is that the meaning or identity precedes the mission. All of these Marys were loved first, because of who they were. Their belovedness was not bound to the faithfulness of how well they carried out their mission. Wow!
Looking back over all these years, I now realize that really I have fully grown into my name: Mary Lisa. I am a beloved daughter of the Most High God not because of what I have done to earn His love, but because of who HE is and because of who I am in Him. I have been set apart, consecrated for such a time as this to help prepare the bride of Christ for His second coming. Through Him I am strong, more than an overcomer. Although I was quite rebellious throughout my years, He lovingly and patiently lavished love on me so much so that I became hooked on who He IS, not just what He gives. The very name of my blog site, Alabastersky, was taken from the actions of Mary being broken and spilled out before God. I now embrace the cross and all it brings regardless of how bitter, as I desire not only to know Jesus as my friend, but also to be called His friend. I am a part of the inheritance promised to Him by our Father, and I want Him to have all of me that He can possibly have.
SO… that is what is in MY name. What’s in yours? Like I said, I believe we all have a name we have been given by God. Whether it aligns with the name christened upon us by our parents or a name we were given at a later time, my prayer for you is that you, too, not only discover it but also grow into it. Be blessed.
5 thoughts on “What’s In A Name”
I haven’t had an opportunity to really research my name on a Biblical stance. I do know that Crystal is translated as ICE and Lynn is translated as a pool of water – It is Celtic. I love that you were able to fully breakdown your middle name. Myrrh – STRONG! We know however, that we are both a beloved daughter of the Most High God.
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Amen! Crystal also means Christ Bearer. You carry living water and you are l like a fresh drink of it to whom ever you meet ❤️
Tolkien’s concept of names comes closer to the truth, I think, in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. “Treebeard” noted that a name could take a long time to say, because it represented all that a being is. As I grow older, I find sometimes I forget a given name, but still remember everything I know about this person, and sort of feel I really do KNOW his/her NAME. Said someone whose full legal name is C.A. Post. But that is only my “legal” name, not who I am. 😉
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I loved this meditation on your name. None of us read what you share with us without recognizing how you approach fullness of meaning in Him.
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Awe, thank you Jon, for the affirmation and encouragement! I really appreciate it!
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