Naming children

Naming my children has been, unexpectedly, one of my favorite parts of parenting

Naming my children has been, unexpectedly, one of my favorite parts of parenting. It’s such a challenge, an opportunity to think deeply on what I hope and dream for my children and for our family life. How do you boil down, in one or two names, everything you’d like to give a tiny, unknown human being who’s still being built?

Each time, I’ve thrown out a name almost as a joke. In my daughter’s case, my husband said, “You know, I’m kind of surprised that we haven’t considered any names from books that we love.”

“What about Elda?” I answered. (From the wonderful children’s book Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones. I highly recommend it for your 10-15 year old crowd.)

Elda, it turns out, means “battle” or “warrior” (depending on which source you view). “What if we added ‘leader’ as a middle name?” I asked. So we settled on Elda Lyn – she would be our battle leader. 

Why a militaristic name in a Mennonite family? What are the battles we hope she’ll lead?

Once upon a time, there was a little girl in the pediatric intensive care unit with a wound. Because of frequent checks and dressing changes, the healthy skin around the wound was becoming painfully irritated by tape pulling off and being put back on. One of the evening shift nurses noticed and in just a few minutes solved the problem: tape a square around the wound, tape that would stay, time after time. The tape that needed to be pulled off would attach to this square, rather than to the girl’s skin.

Or how about this story? Once there was a patient on Medicaid, on an extremely limited diet due to her health conditions. She got thinner and thinner every time she visited her urologist. “Can you add protein powder to your diet?” the doctor asked. “It’s so expensive,” the patient replied. So every month, the caregiver went out and bought a tub or two of protein powder and left them at the front desk. The patient could pick them up whenever she needed. She began to gain weight back, to look healthier at each visit. This woman saw many doctors throughout the year, each of whom was qualified, intelligent, and kind. One doctor was willing to step into the “that’s not my responsibility” zone to save this patient’s life.

The nurse could not cure the little girl’s wound faster because of better bandages – but the little girl was more comfortable. The doctor could not change the fact that her patient was sick and poor – but the patient was no longer starving.

We know that justice and mercy are systemic as well as individual. We hope Elda learns that as well – she could lead battles for God’s kingdom by changing legislation or workplace policies or improving hospitals or banking or education. Along the way, no matter her profession, we have no doubt that she will see many small, everyday gaps between what is provided and what is needed. More than anything, we hope that she is never too busy, too tired, or too scared to fight the small daily battles with compassion.

Mackenzie Snader, Client Services Representative in the Everence Mount Joy office, is a Messiah College graduate and attends James Street Mennonite Church with her family. Before coming to Everence, Mackenzie was the Education Manager for the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman. Mackenzie, her husband, Greg, and their two children are also Everence clients.