In just a few days time my life and my wife’s life will undergo a dramatic and permanent change. Any day now we will be welcoming a new daughter into the world. The thought of holding such a fragile, fearfully and wonderfully made child in my arms, the thought that the tiny fingers and toes, the soft hair the living eyes staring up at me will be my own child, overflows my heart and my mind with a myriad of thoughts and emotions. These thoughts and feelings are mostly awe and gratitude, honor and obligation and, yes, fear and anxiety. I think about all the men I am going to have to hurt when she is a teenager. I am all the more glad for the counsel of Ken Davis who recommended leaving a suitors body on the porch to serve as a deterrent. But I have had several other thoughts about this new (to me) chapter of life.
When we first learned that Faith was expecting, one of the big questions we asked each other was: should we tell other people or should we wait? After all the first few weeks of the baby’s life are frighteningly precarious. It is not unusual to lose a child in that time. It is often recommended that a couple not announce anything until the 12th week. Some have made an early announcement to the joy of extended family and friends only to suffer the heartbreak of a miscarriage. I remember faith reading me a story about one lady who had to endure deep grief every time some one who had heard the good new but had not yet heard the bad news would come around and start asking the usual questions. It was very painful for her.
But then Faith came across one woman’s very inspiring statement that, though a family may endure the tragedy of losing a child after announcing its existence to the world, at the very least, the child was rejoiced over in its brief life. It may not have directly experienced the love, but it was loved all the same. And that pleases God. Beyond that, experience has taught me that, though we often feel like we would rather suffer grief alone, it is neither necessary nor very wise. If one desires healing and not merely pity (though we often need both) comfort and strength come from those outside of us. It is not a bad thing to share your grief (though I would always encourage prudence in where one places confidence).
These thoughts gave us the confidence to rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for what we had, rather than being afraid of what we might lose. We told everybody pretty quickly after we found out. It was too hard to keep something so wonderful to ourselves. Even if we had lost the baby, even if we do lose this child at some point in her life, at least she will have been rejoiced over. At least she will have been loved by the whole of her family.
Along that same line I have often heard people object to having children by asking “why would I want to bring a child into such a horrible world?” which is a terribly cynical and bitter thing to say. Yes this is a horrible world, filled with horrible people who do and say horrible things. I recognize that it is inevitable that my children will suffer in this world. They are guaranteed to experience tribulation, just as I am. In fact there is a chance (perhaps even a good chance) that one or all of my children will always hate God. There is a chance that they will become so corrupted that they become a type of Hitler or Nero. There is also a chance that my children will suffer as a victim of such a person. On the other hand, there is a chance (I pray it is a good chance) that the child may know Christ. There is a chance that the child will live to know a glory that far exceeds any suffering this fallen world can render. Even if the child dies young or suffers disease, they will have the opportunity to know God forever and partake in the glory of the resurrection. And in the resurrection there will be no death, no mourning, no crying and no sickness. It is a risk I am willing to take, for I do not believe that non existence is better than existence, especially when you have the opportunity to exist in the world to come, though we may have to endure suffering for a short season in this world.
I remember once, I was thinking about Abraham and how from his body came this nation of people; great men like Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel and eventually Jesus, the Messiah. I thought that perhaps, those from my body might be the next Augustine or Jonathan Edwards and how great that would be. But then, in the course of the thought, I came to the terrifying realization that one of my children or perhaps one of their children, may be the next Hitler or Jeffery Dohmer. ‘What a horrible notion,’ I thought, ‘That the name of Loofbourrow would be stained as the name Hitler was defiled by Adolf.’ I thought, ‘how could I prevent the latter and ensure the former destiny for my descendents? The answer was clear. There is nothing I can do to ensure my descendents turn out a certain way. All I can do is pass on what was given to me through my teachings and life example and pray God takes it as far as He wills. I remember then praying some very silly prayer about Him keeping all the Loofbourrow’s that come from my body for his purposes and grace; which is not a bad prayer in itself, but I have since learned another lessons about my own pride and priorities.
Faith and I had no desire to wait for our baby to be born to find out what its gender would be. Before we knew, however, the big question was “what are you hoping for? A boy or a girl?” The truth was that neither of us had a preference. We just wanted kids. When we finally found out that it was going to be a girl we were elated! We joyfully ran around telling everyone. To my astonishment there were a few people who initially reacted with disappointment; disappointment on my behalf. I’m not sure why this was. Perhaps they thought it would be a burden for me to have to relate to a daughter or that some how I was missing out on how wonderful and easy boys are to rear (I’m being sarcastic). I rather suspect, however, that it had to do with the propagation of the Loofbourrow name (which is itself a mystery because none of the people who were disappointed were actually Loofbourrow’s).
In my opinion, the name Loofbourrow is a great name. It has been claimed by many good hearted and strong minded men and women even a few reverends. In fact before I was married I thought it would be quite an honor for anyone to take the name Loofbourrow. Why ever would anyone object to bearing the name Loofbourrow? But then I met a Weatherly who felt quite the same about her name. It was not an easy thing for her to give up a name which she greatly prided for all the same reasons. Then she asked me if I would be willing to do for her what I was asking her to do for me? Would I become a Weatherly for her? My pride did not like that at all. My pride and his good friends, Social Acceptability and Family Tradition got their heads together to try and build an argument against such an obviously foolish question.
Fortunately my conscience noticed the little huddle, grabbed his bible and step in. It is my personal conviction that I should never ask something of someone that I myself would not be willing to do if I was able. After some meditation on the issue I came to the conclusion that the value of a name like Loofbourrow or Weatherly is no more or less significant than the name Paul or Apollos or Cephes the value of any name is derived from the name of Christ and the name of Christ is what I should be concerned about.
In times past the practice of bringing a woman under the name of her husband provided a kind of security and stability in society that today women don’t particularly need (this was not the sole purpose of the name change, certainly there are symbolic components in the practice which are quite valid). I am not here speaking about marriage but only the practice of name change. Granted it makes life much easier for us all to have one name but it is at the end of the day less relevant. It is a tradition and one our pride often clings to. I think the real question is: would you be willing to take the name of Christ as your own. Would you be willing to give up your name and promote only his? now I am not suggesting that we all change our last names to Christian or something, though I dare say that would not be a bad thing, but we must realize the truth of what Jesus said “anyone who does the will of my Father is my mother, my sister and my brother.” We who are truly in Christ, are family. And before the name of Loofbourrow, or American or Calvary Chapel or any other name, we bare, proclaim, preserve and defend the name of Christ.
In applying this to my daughter, I recognize that she may not always be a Loofbourrow. But who cares? What is important is that whatever name she goes by is made precious by the name of Christ and her participation in the family of Christ. Jesus Christ is the name I want her to honor and propagate. The same would be true of any child I have, be it son or daughter. It would be better for them to bare spiritual children than physical children. In the worlds economy blood is thicker than water. But in Christ’s economy we are bound to each other by both water (i.e. the Spirit) and blood (of Christ) and these are more binding than any earthly human name or blood line.
So my point is that I have no greater joy in having sons than I do in having daughters. The only reasons I can see for a man being disappointed with receiving a daughter and not a son (at this point) all come from fear and selfishness. It is utter nonsense to value a person because of their gender and their ability to fulfill your personal agenda. Equally it is foolish to get wrapped up in whose name is better. Whatever name you are given, bear the name of Christ and watch your name shine like the sun.
Now this is not to say that a name is a bad thing. Names are valuable to be sure. But their value comes from the name above every other name. If names were unimportant I would not have spent hour upon hour with my wife trying to figure out what to call our daughter. A good name, a name that carries meaning, either in content or sentiment (that is a name that literally means something or a name that is attached to some one who meant something) can act almost as a blessing. I think of my own name, Jacob, or my wife’s name, Faith, and the part our own names have played in shaping our personality and life experience. My long held choice for my daughters name was Sola Dei Gloria Loofbourrow. Sola Dei Gloria is actually not a name but a Latin phrase which means “glory to God alone” (well, technically “glory to God alone” would be “sola Deo Gloria” sola dei Gloria would mean, literally “alone of God glory” or “for the glory of God alone” but the point is still there. I just think sola dei sounds nicer for a girls name than sola deo). The intended effect would be that the uniqueness of the name would inspire the question of meaning which would serve to remind my daughter what her life’s purpose is. She would have to go through life explaining to people (and being reminded) that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It may even protect her from possibly bad moral decisions as she and others contemplate the meaning of the phrase.
However some have thought the name too unique (well, more like too weird). So the leading name has been Arabella Verity. My biggest complaint about the name Arabella is that its meaning is not as explicit. It is not totally clear what the name means. It may mean prayerful or it may mean beautiful altar. The effect of uniting the two names would be the meaning ‘the beautiful altar of truth’ or ‘faithful is the beautiful altar,’ a reference to the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. This is still a very good name in my opinion. It is just as beautiful, much more socially acceptable, still sufficiently unique, but not as explicit as the former. Either way I hope to stress the meaning of her name so that she might learn to associate herself with either God’s purpose for us or his sacrifice for us. So names are valuable and good, but again, only in so much as they correspond to our Lord and his name and word..
All in all I am ecstatic about the prospect of holding and knowing my daughter. I can’t wait to discover who God has made her to be. I can’t wait to watch this beautiful bundle of mystery and glory, discover the wonder of this world. Who is this manifestation of the love and unity of my wife and me? Who will it be that looks at me through those beautiful eyes? I can’t wait to figure out what makes her laugh, what stirs her heart, what makes her think. I am passionate to pass on to her the tools and wisdom God has given to me that she might inherit the great joy of knowing God; the essence of eternal life. How wonderful it will be to experience life with and through this new person.
I cannot put my excitement into words! It is very near the same joy I have in the hope of our life to come. Indeed, even as I write this, our baby daughter is concealed within a world quite as different from our own as ours is different from what is to come. In her dark and confined universe it is impossible for her to know or even imagine this world and all the wonders and terrors it contains. But she can hear our voices, the whispers of our world. I hope, upon God’s grace, that we may help her hear the whispers of the world that is soon to come to all of us so that “when her spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight through realms of the day, this her song through endless ages; “Jesus led me all the way.”