|Isaiah 43:1b |
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Hello, my name is... Finishing that statement should be easy. After all, I have lived with my name for decades. I like the name my parents chose for me - the middle names of my aunts. And yet, I have been known to introduce myself two different ways, using either my given name, Lorilee, or a shortened form, Lori. One day Bruce asked me about this after he noticed I introduced myself each way within about ten minutes of each other.
Up until high school, I used my given name almost exclusively. I would often have to spell it for people but would rarely need to correct pronunciation. Close friends and family used nicknames, but to everyone else I was, I am, Lorilee. Just before high school we moved. With the move came the frustration of people mispronouncing my name. Even after I corrected them many times I seemed destined to have Lorilee become Lori Lee or Lori uh Lee. Ugh! One day after yet another attempt to correct the same people I decided it would be less aggravating to have everyone call me Lori. I still used Lorilee anytime I needed to write my name, so all my homework and documents held my given name.
I recently had the question posed to me: "Have you ever thought of returning to Lorilee as your name?" Our name is a piece of our identity. When my counsellor proposed the idea, she talked about how, since my choice came out of frustration, it may be an unconscious reminder. Hmm. I never even considered the idea until that conversation. Something I needed to think about. This question prompted conversation with those who knew me well. Now I mostly introduce myself as Lorilee. Many people who know me still go back and forth between the two versions.
As I considered how my name impacts my writing and my interaction with others, I remembered a time someone I never previously met telling me I pronounced my name wrong. I walked away from that encounter and complained to Bruce, "How can she tell me how to pronounce my name?" Shades of high school frustration returned. I had used this name for decades. I heard my parents and grandparents use the name chosen for me. Now a stranger tried to correct my pronunciation. After complaining out the frustration, I tucked the memory away.
Even tucked away these events impact my actions. Our neighbourhood has seen many unfamiliar immigrants move in bringing their customs and their names. I sense frustration rising in me when I hear others say things like: "I'll never learn how to say that name", or "Why can't they give their children a name we can pronounce?" Why indeed. That name might be chosen to honour a family member. It might have ties to important people or events in their own history. Why should others give up their choice for our convenience? I don't think they should. Their story can enrich our own. Our honest attempts to listen to them and to use their names properly can build into relationships. By working to learn their name we show they are important enough for us to put time and effort into respecting them.
|Friends in spite of differences|
I have stumbled over names that are foreign to me. I expect to encounter more names that cause me to stumble. I have made it my practice to ask if my pronunciation is correct when I encounter an unknown name. I ask them help me say it correctly. This gives me the opportunity to demonstrate they are worth the time for me to learn this.
Whichever name I use, Lori or Lorilee, God knows my name. He knows how to pronounce it. He has shown me the frustrations I had can and will be used by Him as they shape my actions.
Hello, my name is Lorilee, derived from the laurel tree, a symbol of honour and victory. I will also answer to Lori. I choose to honour those I meet by learning their name and using it well. Will you join me?