What is in a Name?


What is in a name? Why am I thinking about it…? Well, I had a converstation with friend of mine the other day because everyone knows me by my English name “Sherline” but not by my African (Shona; Zimbabwean) Christian name “Nyasha” -which means God’s Mercy/Grace (there is still some dispute in my country about that meaning, from what I hear so I take it to mean God’s Mercy). Sherline is of an Irish and Scottish in origin and means either white mountain or beautiful meadow.  Sounds nice but I prefer my Christian African name. For most of my life, I’ve used my African name until I went to a school in Beijing, China that had people that couldn’t pronounce it properly so they acknowledged me by my anglo-saxon name “Sherline”. It was kind of hard for me to adjust because I was so used to being called Nyasha but I understand why some people may have some difficulty with it.

Some people name their children based on the circumstances they are in and sometimes if the circumstances are desperate and hopeless some parents give their children cursed names. I believe that a name is powerful in that the child can live up to that name given so when I hear of some cursed names that some people I meet have…I think to myself, “they are unfortunately living up to their names”. I’m not saying that you will live up to your name but there is a power I believe when we name a child something. It’s the same power that Adam, the first man in the Bible had in naming the beasts of the land and air in the Bible so likewise be prudent when you name your child.

I was abandoned by my real father before birth and his name was Shame. I don’t know much about him but from the stories my mother told me and from my other family members he brought shame on my family because he raped my mother when she was 15 and that is how my sister and I were born. My mother bore twins from a man that was obsessed with her. He was not her boyfriend by the way.

In our culture, being a mother as a teenager was looked down upon in the eighties. My mother didn’t ask to have children at the age of 16 but that is what my father who I don’t know did. I was bitter and enraged at him for many years to come. No, it was more like I hated him (me being honest at last) but I’ve since let go of all of my anger because I cannot change what has happened. I’m 26 now and when I see how short life can be, I haven’t got time anymore to mull around in misery concerning what is past and what was beyond my control. My Grandparents took my sister and I and adopted us. My mother was not alone despite the shaming period in her life. She suffered for a long time battling depression, resentment, self-loathing and hatred, but in spite of all of that, she rose above it all and is a strong woman today. I bless my mother for what she’s been through and Thank God for my Grandparents that took my sister and I as innocent as we were into their bosom.

My father never contacted us after we were born but from the stories I’ve heard, I hear that he killed his girlfriend many years ago in a car crash and got married to another and has children. He is an alcoholic, sleeps around with many women and Lord knows if he’s still alive. My Father still brings shame upon himself despite all that he has. His mother tried to contact my sister and I when we were back in Zimbabwe 17 years ago and I spoke with her not knowing who she was but all I could hear was a broken woman’s voice. She was sad and I only found out later who it was that was calling the house at strange times when my grandparents were out. I never met my father when I stayed in Harare for a short time before the next post nor do I plan to. I have forgiven him because he no longer has the power to shame my family again. I will rise above it all and be an upstanding woman.  I no longer feel the hatred that I once bore for him. All I feel is sorry for him. He has a cursed name that he lives by. May God rescue his soul one of these days that’s all I pray for now.

My Grandparents gave my sister and I our African Christian names whereas my mother gave us our anglo-saxon names. My Father, Shame, unfortunately, lived up to his name…However, when I was born I was named God’s Mercy and believe it or not, doors opened up for my mother and her family that no man could shut. She experienced a lot of hardship as others laughed at her for being a teenage mother. They also laugh at my sister and I but we paid no mind. They thought my mother wouldn’t amount to anything but  I am happy to say that she is currently married to an amazing man and out of that union I have a half sister from that marriage who I gave her African name Tinashe – which means God is with us or in English; its equivalent would be Emmanuel. My mom doesn’t regret giving birth to us. She regrets the pain she endured without knowing God at the time. Now she has God and has peace and fulfillment in her life. Her name is Sophia –which means Wisdom. She lives up to her name as she gives me so much of it in my walk. This is why I say Bless your children with purpose-driven names and do not curse out of the pain of your circumstances. Your children will pay the price for it later whether you believe in curses or not. This is my opinion so you can argue with that but I truly believe that there is power in a name.

My Last Note: Be careful of the names you give your children. They may live up to them. There is power in naming a person and a thing. Think of Jabez in the Bible. He was born at a time when his mother experienced great pain and in that pain she gave him a cursed name “Jabez” which means “child of my trouble; Pain; and Sorrow”. Jabez knew the implications of this cursed name and sought the Lord for help to reverse this curse. He prayed this prayer:

Even if you were given a cursed name by your parents which are beyond your control, you can reverse the curse by praying the Jabez prayer to God as an example. Some people go to the extreme and legally change their names altogether because they understand the implications of their cursed names, but I’m not saying that you have to go that far. You can if you feel led to do that because ultimately, it’s you who has to live up to that name. Your name can become your destiny because of the power behind the name so it’s up to you to choose what you will live up to. If it is cursed, you can reverse it, but if it is blessed ask yourself, are you living up to that name?  This is Food for thought.

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13 thoughts on “What is in a Name?

    • Thanks for reading. I was debating on whether I should write about this since it’s so personal and finally decided that the greatest inspiration for encouraging are borne from testimonies. I pray that this helps someone and gives hope.

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      • Yvw and ty for sharing. its a way to help other people’s and let them know they not alone. I know it had to be hard for you to tell your story. I so agree its is just that. It will. God Bless u! 🙂

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  1. testimony is the back bone of change! thanks for this story. i love how my name has 2 meaning that really just show how i can be at times. thanks for the post, really makes me think hard not to have crazy names for my kids.

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  2. Beautifully written Sherline and a pleasure to read!
    you have shown how important a name can be and how it is possible to rise above pain and be free with the Lord next to you … We should all name children after things that are beautiful, because they carry sweet innocence 🙂

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  3. Yes names are extremely important in our lives because in one way they shape our destiny. My name, “Tarisai” has been degraded to the meaning: look. It has been derived from the original Shona word, “Tarisa” which means look. The reason why I hate that meaning is because it has to do with taking “quick glances,” kind of an “in and out” thing. The words that are associated with “look” are:

    bounce, glance, rebound, skim, skip. What do these words have in common? They all have to do with not receiving enough attention to be appreciated. It’s one look at the person or thing, for about a second or two, and you’re looking away. That’s why I detest that meaning and thank God that it does not mean that!

    It’s real meaning is “Behold.” Now THAT’s a meaning. The associating words are: appreciate, comprehend, catch on to, grasp, perceive, recognize, register, understand. To gaze upon someone or something long enough to observe and analyze them. You can’t study something by taking a quick look at it. If you want to learn something about it, know that it will require your undivided attention! Behold. That is the true meaning of the name, “Tarisai.”

    NB: Nyasha 🙂 please can you put a search widget at the top of your blog so that it’s easier to find your posts. Thank you 🙂

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    • What and awesome name. Behold! Totally amazing. I love it when people tell me the meaning of their names. Just for you, I have now put the search widget. Your parents gave you a blessed name Tarisai. I think that is how they felt when they first saw your face.

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