If I was a boy, I would be named Todd. I actually quite like that name.
Instead, though, I am a girl and I am named Tracy. I’ve had a love affair with that name since I was a child. While my friends had feminine names like Brianna and Michelle, I was given a unisex name. I didn’t like knowing that I could be confused with a boy, especially professional NBA stars and preacher men from the deep south. But it is my name and there wasn’t much choice about it. (Though in a fictional story that I wrote in the 4th grade – I loved writing even back then- I wrote myself into a character named Debbie. You can probably tell that I grew up in the 80s.)
Fast forward a few decades to a cold March morning when I found out that I was going to be blessed with my first baby. My husband and I waited a few years after marriage for this magical moment, so when it came, we relished. We fussed over baby names for quite some time, but knew that ultimately we wanted the Creator of all life, and the Creator of our sweet infant, to have the final say.
See, we’d listened to a message at our church several years before in which the pastor spoke on the importance of names in historical times, which is further evidenced in Biblical scripture. God didn’t give names because they were cute or hip. He gave names that meant something; the meaning of the name was a significant part of a person’s life and so the name was chosen to signify who the person was, what characteristic the person had, or what things a person would do in life. The pastor asked the pre-parents to give God a say in what we named our babies when the time came. So while we had some cute and hip names in our back pocket (I won’t even tell you about the awesomeness scale of the names that my husband can come up with!), we wanted God to make the call. He knew who our child would be and how the given name would influence the life that would be lived. Thus our dear sweet Noah was born. Noah: rest and comfort
Well let me just tell you, Noah is a highly active, completely physical, incredibly boisterous walking-talking dirt machine. He is excited. He is interested. He is fun and playful. He is go-go-go from morning to night. So much for rest and comfort!
A few years later, when we were blessed with a daughter, we gave this give-God-a-chance-thing another go. Clearly he had missed the mark with Noah’s name –cha!- but perhaps he would do better this time. This time, however, he had me to contend with. I wanted Ruth. I wanted Ruthie ever since I was old enough to think about what my children might one day be named. Ruth it had to be! I was sure God would be on board with that name, it’s Biblical for crying out loud, how could he not approve?! But I heard clear as day, through a series of words spoken and verses sung that our wee-babe was to be Grace. Noooooo! I want Ruth! I held my ground for a while, but I knew that God had a reason and a plan for Grace and who am I to stand in the way of a plan far greater than me? So Grace, or Gracie, we have. Grace: an undeserved gift or favor
Gracie has certainly lived up to her name. Then again, what precious baby girl isn’t an underserved gift or favor? But truly, she is dreamy through and through. Furthermore, when we first introduced our Gracie to her maternal Great Grandfather, he gleefully announced “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”. Wait….what? Noah and Gracie’s names are in a single Bible verse? Sure enough, the first time that grace is mentioned in the Bible is in the story of Noah. See Genesis 6:8. Some translations say “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord”, but remember, grace means favor. Also, for added fun check out this perfect Noah-and-Gracie song by the Satler Brothers on You Tube.
Fast forward once again, to a few years later when I discovered the purpose of my girl-boy name. I was unexpectedly and quite dishearteningly diagnosed with epilepsy. I’m a stay at home mother of these kids, who were very small at the time and I suddenly had to come to terms with a lifelong medical condition. I had to learn how to be strong, how to care for my newly found needs, while still pouring every bit of love and affection into my family. I needed bravery, courage. Tracy: courage. Looks like God (and perhaps my parents) knew what he was doing all along. While I still don’t love the whole unisex thing, I love my name. I love that I was named Courage well before I ever knew the capacity of courage that I would need. I’ve needed plenty of it!
There were also times, though, when the fear got the better of me. The great unknown of what would happen next in the world of millions of misdirected hyperactive brain neurons, would scare me sleepless. Literally I would lay awake in great fear of seizures which traditionally plagued me at night. I tried reading my novels and the Bible, watching late night TV (no thanks) and deep breathing with calm mental speak, none of which would quiet my nervousness. What did work? It was what I was drawn to as if from an unseen force. It was Noah. I’d take up a little mommy-sized spot in his bed and rest. Real rest. I felt the fear leave and the calm reclaim. It was the only comfort that I could find in my moments of horror. Knowing that there was no real possibility of a seizure, thanks to the brain-numbing drug that I take, I could lie next to my sleeping boy and experience real rest and comfort. Noah: rest and comfort. God was spot on.
Tracy needed courage, and her name was courage.
Noah, in his highly active little self, perfumes rest and comfort from his very core, which I am sure will be a valuable attribute to him and those around him for the entirety of his life.
Gracie: undeserved favor or gift. Not just a catchy gospel song, a most accurate statement about her life, for all of her life.
Here’s the tricky one. Bradley: Broad Meadow. Still trying to figure that one out.
What about you? What is the meaning of your name, your kids’ names? Have you found this to ring true in your life? I would be honored to hear your stories in the comments below.