What’s in a Name?

For as long as I can remember, words have been important to me. I’m a very verbose person, as you can all attest to. (Be quiet! emoticon) I like words. I’m the kind of person who can spend hours pouring over dictionaries researching the etymology of random vocabulary. I’m careful with words. I take words seriously. I try to package every word with love and encouragement. I’ve been a teacher and youth pastor too long to not understand that words have power. One off-hand comment to a student can bring legal action in the school system. One back-handed remark to a youth can change his view of God.

Not that I hold back in telling the truth.
My boys at CCHC know that I will tell them how it is, even if it hurts, right?
And usually it does hurt cuz I’m beating them up while telling them.
And they love it! ^_^

I would love to internalize these wise sayings:

  • All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. (Prov 8:8 )
  • … the prudent hold their tongues (Prov 10:19)
  • … the tongue of the wise brings healing (Prov 12:18 )
  • Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. (Prov 12:25)
  • A gentle answer turns away wrath (Prov 15:1)
  • … how good is a timely word! (Prov 15:23)
  • … gracious words are pure in [God’s] sight (Prov 15:26)
  • The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. (Prov 16:21)
  • Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Prov 16:24)
  • Those who have knowledge use words with restraint, and those who have understanding are even-tempered. (Prov 17:27)
  • Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. (Job 4:4)
  • She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Prov 31:26)

Words are important. Names are just as important to me. I have spent time over the yrs researching name meanings. Probably due to Chinese influence in my life. Chinese names are not like “Nancy” and “Susan,” but more like “Jade Treasure” and “Science Research.” I’ve always thought the process of naming was very prophetic – just like in sacred texts when people are named. Hopefully, a person’s name will determine their future, or their temperament. Ironically, I always thought my own name was devoid of any real meaning. I’ve only recently discovered that aside from being the name of a flower/scent/tea, my name comes from a Persian/Arabic derivative meaning ‘gift from God.’ emoticon Who knew? [Jesus did, of course.]

I’m thinking about names right now because I’ll be getting married next yr and I’m trying to decide how to take on my husband’s name. Notice I didnt say IF I’ll take on his name. I had to wrestle with that first. All my life I’ve been Ms Jasmine Flores. The more traditional expectation would be for me to drop that name and become Mrs Jasmine Hui. The problem is, I dont know who that person is! I dont know how women can give up their names so easily. It’s so much a part of your identity. No one asks husbands to drop their name and take on their wives’. They never have to wrestle with their identity in the trading off of their names for someone else’s. Somehow it doesnt seem right. But, that’s society’s construct. It’s all based on the idea that women ought to leave their families and be joined to their husband. Odd. I distinctly remember reading that a husband ought to leave his own mother and father and be joined to his wife. Some really popular book that people have been reading for thousands of years says that. Oh well. emoticon *shrugs*

So instead of asking IF I’ll take my husband’s name, I will follow the norm in at least trying to figure out HOW I’ll take on his name. I think I’ve already decided that I’m not going to drop my name completely. There’s a part of me that wants to hold on to some aspect of my Puerto Rican heritage, in spite of the fact that I dont identify with it at all. (Speaking Spanglish doesnt really count.) It’s really more b/c I am only now realizing how hurtful it must be to my family that I completely rejected the culture they’ve tried so hard to preserve. It’s more out of respect than out of identification. Is that a good enough reason to hold on? I’m still wondering.

Expecting my husband to change his name to accommodate mine is a stretch. After all, it’s a question of his identity, too, and he’s not Hispanic in any way. So, it comes down to my own comfort level. On the basis of my identity and politics, what can I bear and what can I not? My identity says names are important to me. I love my name. (How fitting is it to be called ‘jasmine flower’ anyway? And my mom didnt even do it on purpose!) My politics say that following the more traditional route of dropping my name completely is feeding into a patriarchal construct that I fight too hard against to succumb to. Where does this leave me? Here are the options: Jasmine Flores-Hui, or Jasmine Hui-Flores. (That’s the Hispanic way of doing it – husband’s name is said first.) Or more simply Jasmine Flores Hui with no hyphenation. That would also mean I dont fill out any name change forms. (Hallelujah! I dont even wanna explain what mafan that would be!) For all intents and purposes my name would still be Jasmine Flores. I would just tack on the Hui whenever. It would be more of a ‘common usage’ name than a legal one. People are naturally going to start calling me Mrs. Hui anyway – they already do! So, maybe that’s what I’ll do. Nothing official, just common usage. Jasmine Flores still, but when it’s needed Jasmine Flores Hui. That’s what I’ve decided for now.

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