I dreaded hearing people mispronounce my name as a child. I was the student who, as soon as she heard the teacher fumble over an L-sounding name during attendance, would shoot my hand up in the air and say “Here!” (in order to end any further embarrassment).
“I’m sorry. How do you say your name?”
“Lehhhh-shshjjdljnd-oaayayyn. Can you say it for me again slowly, please?”
“That’s such a pretty name. What does it mean?”
As far I knew, my name didn’t mean anything. My mother is from Jamaica and she thought it was such an exotic American name. She even took on a creative way of spelling it, unaware that her accented pronunciation of my name would not roll off the American tongue as smoothly.
So, with years of people misspelling, mispronouncing, and (what felt like) mishandling my name, I became quite jaded towards it. In a desperate attempt, I tried to get people to call me by my middle name, Alexander (another long story) or Alex for short, but I failed to acknowledge them because Alex was not my name.
I also have to admit that as a child, I was the “talker” of my family. I am the youngest of five and I guess my need for communication has always been strong. When I wasn’t talking, I was writing. When I wasn’t writing, I was making up stories in my head. When I wasn’t making up stories in my head, I was making up stories for other people in my head.
You can see where I’m going with this.
Communication has always been my thing. Whether it was learning a new language, mimicking my mother’s accent or coming up with a new one of my own (mostly a fake British accent), the left hemisphere of my brain was always raring to go.
It wasn’t until my first year in grad school, while I was seeking my Master of Fine Arts in Writing that I understood what my name truly meant. All these years, God was displaying the meaning of my name in my passion for communication and it didn’t hit me until a Jewish friend leaned over to me during class and asked, “Did you know that your name in Hebrew means ‘tongue’ or ‘language’?”
“WHHHHHHAAAAATTTTT?” I thought to myself.
That moment changed everything for me. I felt like I better understood God’s plan for my life. From before I was in my mother’s womb, God called me to languages. He called me to be a writer.
Now having done research on my entire name: Lashon Alexander Daley, I understand that God has written out my life’s purpose in my name.
Lashon: (Hebrew) Language
Alexander: (Latin) Defender of men
Daley: (Gaelic) Assembly
I am the language defender of men in the assembly. Basically, I am a superhero.
You can call me “Superhero of Languages”.
Of course, the question I’ll never know the answer to is whether I would still be the same person had my name been different. But what my name reminds me is that God is faithful to fulfill the promises he has begun in us. He created me to be a writer and I expect to use my writing for His glory until He chooses to give me a new name.
Although my name never changed like Abram to Abraham or Ben-oni to Benjamin, understanding the meaning of my name changed the way I understood God’s plan for my life and has sent me running towards my future with joyous, reckless abandonment.
Lord thank You for what you are doing in my life. Show me Your will and give me vision for my community. Give me the strength to embrace all that You have for me. And if you choose to, give my heart a new name. Amen.