The Power Behind Your Name

I have two first names: Maria and Paula

I was named Maria for the very same reason my mom has the same name (plus the glaring fact that the majority of the women on her side of the family has it, too). Whereas my other name, Paula, was given to me obviously for the very reason that it was inspired from a saint.

Most people, especially during my university days at St. Paul (surprise!), would pronounce my name as ‘Poh-la’. However, with family and friends (since I go by the nickname ‘Pau’) they would pronounce it as ‘Pahw-la’.

Both pronunciations work with me. But to be called Maria alone doesn’t, and I’ll reserve that for another (exciting?) story… And if people were to call me Maria, I’d prefer they call me by both names, together (Maria Paula) but that’s just me.

Parents have this unquestionable power to name whatever they want to name their child. However, as children grow up, they will question where their names came from. And I hope some parents have groundbreaking answers as to why they would name their kids ‘Blanket’, ‘Pilot Inspektor’, ‘Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen’, etc.

Why they would want their children to endure a life of torture is beyond me.

Anyway, the reason I am talking about names is to point out we are given the names we deserve. Whether it be Biblical or not, the name(s) we have are symbolic of the people we have to live up to.

I never did fully appreciate the meaning of my name. I always thought, nonchalantly, ‘Yeah, sure from a disciple… so what? Am not him and he’s not me”. But later did I fully grasp the history of how that name came to be.

In my case, I had to recall why He was named the way he was. He was being renewed. And through renewing his name, Saul was later called Paul.

The dark history of Paul covers how he himself savagely persecuted Christians. And only through a miracle was He made to ‘see’ the error of his ways. Parallel to Paul but not quite, I personally have had my share of that ‘dark history’. So in a way, aside from being an educated man of letters, Paul and I have similarities that I can only imagine or dream of. But bearing the same name as he does, it does give me a sense of pride and duty all at the same time.

Pride in sense that I was named after a good and great man, duty in a sense that I have to live up to it.

There was this line from The Gladiator that Juba says to Maximus: “You have a great name. He must kill your name before he kills you.”

Wouldn’t it be great to have your name outlive you? Not because of indiscretion or scandal but because people loved you and looked up to you.

How about you? What does your name tell about you? How can you live up to it?


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