Naming is powerful and prophetic. And though we don’t have to be bound to the labels given to us, I have seen time and time again how a name—a prophetic word—can divinely shape and help set a trajectory for a life.
My niece is named Harper Joy, and since she was a baby she has embodied the essence of her name—full of joy. In the same way, my nephew is named Everett—which means ‘brave as a wild boar’ (a gutsy parent move, no doubt). And this fiery, red-headed 3 year-old has already lived up to his namesake. He has fortitude (some may call it stubbornness) and fearlessness beyond his age and is often found climbing up any and all scalable surfaces in an effort to save the day.
The significance of naming is evident all throughout scripture too. Jacob (meaning ‘grabber’ because he was born clutching the heal of his brother) had his name changed to Israel—which means ‘he who struggles with God, God contends, God rules’—after wrestling with an angel of the Lord. In the New Testament, after hundreds of years of silence from God, we read the story of Zechariah (meaning ‘God remembers’) and Elizabeth (meaning ‘God’s promise’). This couple whose names together mean ‘God remembers God’s promise’ bore a son named John who would prepare the way for Christ’s coming. Even the name given to Satan bears significance—‘an adversary, one who resists, the accuser’.
I have been reflecting on this idea of naming a lot lately, as Ben and I have been actively praying for the perfect name to give our little girl that will be born in May. And as we have searched for her name, I have found myself thinking often about the name given to me and the prophetic significance it has played in my life from its onset.
It is perhaps a bit redundant...because Anna actually means ‘grace’. When I was young I often joked that my name was Grace Grace. And as much as I would like to say that my life has been marked by my namesake, it instead has served as more of a constant reminder of who I am striving to become. Since I was a little girl, I have always struggled with grace. I set impossible standards for myself that I subtly hold others to as well, and I have struggled to know how to extend grace to myself and those around me when we inevitably fall short. This is why grace has been at the center of almost all spiritual lessons that the Lord has taught me over the years. And though I have so much more to grow in, I’m closer than I was. And for that I am grateful.
Carrying this little baby in my womb has been another lesson in both grace-receiving and grace-extending. I’ve been afforded 9 months to prepare for an arrival that will change nearly all aspects of life as I have known it. And as I anticipate those changes with great joy and a little nervousness, I have already felt the Spirit inviting me to lean into grace in a new way. Even as I watch my body change and react in ways I have no control over, I have had to learn to generously afford myself grace. To yield to this process of creating new life. When my ankles start swelling (what a strange, annoying phenomenon!), I have had to learn to give myself permission to stop and rest. To cancel a meeting if I need to take a nap instead. To skip a workout if I just can’t muster up the energy to do burpees that day. To have an emotional breakdown with my husband and not feel the need to incessantly apologize for falling apart. As I have prepared for our little girl’s arrival, I have already had to lean into my namesake more than ever before. So I can only imagine how it will serve as a guidepost in the months and years to come as Ben and I parent this little one—day by day growing in grace.
Because of all of this and so much more, we have prayerfully considered the name we want to prophetically speak over our little girl's life. We desire her to embody a life of grace as well—coupled with a bravery and strength that we pray she will someday find in Christ. So we have chosen for her a gaelic name meaning ‘warrior’.
Finley Grace Hodge
A warrior—full of grace. May it be so.