“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
This is a quote from Romeo and Juliet, a passage where Juliet is passionately telling Romeo that she is in love with him, not his family or his name. She’s advocating that, regardless of his name, she would still love him, just as a rose, whether it was called “rose” or “dinglehopper” or “garbage”, would still smell lovely. As much as I enjoy and appreciate Shakespeare, I feel like he wasn’t quite right about this one. Our names are important and have a great deal of meaning contained within them.
I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never liked my name (sorry mom!). As a kid, I wanted to change my name, but I could never think of anything better, so I just stuck with it. “Sarah” means “princess” which was okay when I was a kid and obsessed with Disney, but is less cool when you’re a grown adult. I don’t want to be a damsel in distress waiting for my prince to come rescue me, so if I’m going to be a princess I’m going to be like Xena warrior princess.
I recently attended a workshop where we broke down the meaning of our names and it was an incredibly powerful experience. Many of the women in the room began crying when they realized the connection between their name and their God-given purpose. It was amazing to listen to person after person explain the impact this exercise had on them.
As we discussed names together, I was reminded of a conversation I once had with a friend. When I told him I didn’t like my name, he helped me to reframe what “princess” means. Princesses aren’t just ditsy girls in fancy dresses, they have authority and power and they are able to dispatch armies at a moment’s notice. Princesses are women of authority, royalty that are not to be underestimated or trifled with. Now that’s cool!
Recently I met a young woman who added another piece to this puzzle for me. I was sharing with her a little bit about my story and she compared my faith to that of the centurion who asked for Jesus to heal his sick servant.
And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”
Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.
Luke 7: 2-10
Princesses have great authority but they are also under authority. Until they know how to submit to authority they will never be able to truly wield their power. Much of my journey has been learning how to submit to both God and the people over me. I have many ideas and opinions but, before I can lead, I have first been learning how to follow. This exercise has helped me to better understand that God wanted me to have the name that I have; I no longer disdain being named a “princess”, it’s a distinct honor and privilege.
I encourage you to go through this process for yourself. Find the meaning of your name, but don’t just stop there. Connect what your name means with your purpose, your truest self, the person that God made you to be. It’s amazing how our names can connect so deeply with who we are!
If you don’t know your purpose or are unsure about how the two connect, just let me know and I would be happy to walk you through this!
I hope and pray that this will be encouraging and uplifting experiment for you!
To go Deeper: Read What’s in a Name?