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What’s in a Name? Maybe Some Healing

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

Two step-mothers were talking about the challenges step-mothers face on a program I caught the other day. One of them used a phrase I’ve heard many times, but for some reason it struck me differently this time. She said, “My kid’s mother.”

Normally it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. We hear phrases like this often in the divorce world. “My ex’s weekend,” or “their mother’s job” communicate the person’s identity clearly. My mother would say, “your father’s mother.” It’s the jargon we’re used to.

When I was in high school, my favorite teacher asked what I’d done over Christmas break. I responded, “I spoke with my father’s mother.”  And this dear lady said, “You mean your grandmother?” I was like, “huh, yeah, my grandmother.” But that was the terminology I grew up with.

So what’s the big deal? And what does any of this have to do with healing? Three things come to mind:

Kevin Leman (psychologist, popular author, and speaker) taught about the importance of children using names when they are upset with each other. Leman said that phrases like “he did this to me” should be replaced with, “John did this to me.” Apparently, when you strip a person of their name, it’s easier to pull the humanity from them, and we risk treating them as less than human. How often do we see this as children of divorce?

Women always use names. For reasons I (and the rest of the male species) don’t understand, using a person’s name in conversations is very important to ladies.

In a group of people I was with, a wife was telling a story and she stopped because she couldn’t remember a name. While this nameless individual has value to God, I never met this person, didn’t know the person, and will never meet the person, so who cares? (Send any complaints to After what seemed like a days-long delay, her husband finally said, “Get on with it.”

My point is, names have great value to women. So when they intentionally don’t use them, I believe it is sending a message of unconscious disrespect or disdain. Possibly unforgiveness and other issues are mixed in there as well. And kids can pick this up through osmosis.

The Bible talks about the importance of names. It says“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” [Proverbs 22:1, NKJV]The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. [Proverbs 18:10 ESV]“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 1:10-11, ESV]

And there are many other examples of the importance of a “name” in scripture.

Names have great significance. Sometimes we get one even before we are born. I realize this is a lot to glean from an innocent comment from two nice ladies, but my intuitive observation says that using or not using a name could reflect deeper heart issues that need to be addressed and taken before the Lord.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this. You can add your comment below

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