A few facts about living with the name Gloria:
I hated it. It sounded old fashioned and for an old lady.
It was regularly sung every single year at Christmas Concerts. I can’t remember the first time that I had to hear my name sung with long, drawn out syllables, or worse yet when I myself had to participate in singing it in a school concert, but it soon became a yearly occurrence. To me it was mortifying. Later someone would start singing my name, usually off tune, with taunts of Gloriiiiiiaaaaaa ringing down the hall. Torture. To be honest, I’ve had many an adult do it to me too!! I’ve gotten tougher skin now though and I know people mean it mostly in humor.
However, I still continued to hate my name.
Some more facts:
It means ‘Glory to God’ which is a very special meaning. But as a child, I cared more about how it sounded and thought it not a pretty, soft sounding popular name like most of the girls seemed to have.
It’s Latin and is therefore much more popular in Latin America. But I grew up in a world where girls were named Lorie, Heather, Sally & Carol (a Christmas name too but so much prettier and not to be made fun of).-
My mother once confessed that I was named after a nun in a Catholic hospital, who had helped her with my birth. Horror of horrors!!
And so, I continued to hate my name right throughout my entire adult years.
I did grow into it somewhat, as I aged….and became a Grandma. Grandma Gloria had a nice ring. But I still didn’t really feel it suited me, personally. Me, bring Glory to God? A little too lofty. I should have something more simple and sentimental. I loved my middle name of Lynn and felt that’s what I should have been called. It means waterfall or cascade. I’m a lover of water and consider water my ‘happy place.’ So I continued to still struggle with my ‘hate/love’ relationship with my full name.
And then, a couple of years ago, something very special happened, to change my feelings completely about the name Gloria. It was Christmas time…again…but by then I was pretty steeled to the usual sounds of Glooorrrrriiiiaaaaa floating through the air somewhere, whether sung well, or not so well, or downright butchered. Often I can ignore it or barely notice it now. On this day however, I was in for a surprise. We had flown to Ontario for Christmas, to be with our son, and his wife and daughter. I was excited as it would be our first Christmas with them, but in the moment, I was also tired. As I was headed down the escalator feeling drained and just wanting some rest…. I saw and heard it at the same time. A small band had set up at the bottom of the escalator near the baggage claim and were peeling out the sounds of Glooooorrrrrriiiiiaaaaa. I waited for that deep begrudging feeling that I usually got when I had to endure that song, especially when I wasn’t up for it…but it didn’t come. It sounded good! It was beautiful actually, the way the musical notes of my name rose up to me, enveloped my tired being, and held me in a welcoming embrace. To think that this name that had actually heralded the Christ Child into the world could make me feel so welcome too?! And just like that, the song that I had hated for most of my life and the name that I had hated, I no longer did! I loved the song and I felt the first real embers of love for my name ignite in my heart…my welcoming, celebratory name! A name that celebrated the Christ child and invites me and us all to do the same.
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2: 13-14 NIV
Gloria Lynn Guest lives and writes from Caron, Sk.