In musing over the question, “What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet remarks that “[a] rose by any other name would smell as sweet”—but then comes my question—would it be a rose? Many times when I was younger, I wished I had another name. Amanda was a common name when I was growing up and I disliked being one of several Amanda’s in my class. Why couldn’t my parents have picked a cool and unique name? Or something that was foreign or exotic? Then there’s the fact that the “A-man-duh!” joke was just never that funny.
When I was on my 8-day Retreat though, I was struck with a new appreciation for my name. We were doing an exercise where we acknowledged all the good and bad about ourselves–our characters, our lives, our families, etc–and thanked the Lord for having chosen all of it for us. It’s so simple, but all of a sudden it hit me that God chose my parents so that I would be me—you simply couldn’t have gotten me from any other two people in the world and that includes not just my genes, but the way I was raised, the things I was taught, and not least of all MY NAME! You know how you can really appreciate a gift even if you’re not naturally fond of it because of your love for the giver?—that was the beginning of my appreciation for my name.
Then, a few weeks ago (don’t ask me how it came up—I couldn’t tell you), Fr. Roland asked me if I knew what my name meant. I knew I had read about it at some point but I couldn’t remember. He told me that it came from Latin and meant, “She who must be loved.” Wow, okay, that’s pretty cool. Maybe it’s not exotic, but it’s so beautiful—my name means the beloved! In reading about Theology of the Body, I’ve learned much about the significance of Jesus as our bridegroom and us (the Church) as his bride. It is He who loves and we who are loved—the beloved. We love Jesus too, of course, but only as a response– “[w]e love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This idea has been both a source of comfort for me and a gentle reminder not to try to take the lead, but to wait upon the Lord.
So maybe my name is nasal, maybe it’s common, and maybe it leads to lame jokes, but it’s who I am. I am Amanda—and my name must be loved—just like me!