I remember the conversations we had when trying to find a name for our first child Drew. We decided to continue a family tradition of giving a kid his dad's first name as his middle name. Drew's name is Andrew James. His dad, Jim's, is James Robert. His dad (Drew's Pawpaw) is Robert Alan. It's a way of embedding a little bit of history in a name. A subtle nod without going so far as: "Jim Junior."
I grew up around quite a few guys named "Junior." It took me a while to figure out that wasn't their proper name, but a place-holder. A way to distinguish them from their male relative for whom they were named. Some guys went by "Bobby," or "Little Ken" when their dads were Robert and Kenneth. A few were the third bearer of their given names. John Tristan Alexander Ill went by "Tripp." Norton Barrett Hargis Ill was "Tres." Clever.
My favorite, though, was a kid named "John" after his father—from an early age he was simply called "Ditto."
Ditto. That's really what these families are saying when they give a child the same name as one of their parents or relatives. Ditto. Repeat. Do it again. You want them to emulate the qualities that make that person great. You want them to grow up to be, not a copy of that person, but a reflection of their strengths.
When you share a name with someone, you want the commonality to mean a resemblance of sorts. For the namesake to share more than just initials. To grow up into a likeness that the original can be proud of.
When you pray, pray in my name, Jesus said.
I've been wrestling lately with what Jesus really meant by that. I'm pretty sure it's not some kind of spiritual credit card where we can charge up what we want, like: Just put it on my Father's tab.
I think it might be closer to: Take my name. Call yourself after me. Be my namesake. Let your prayers be my prayers. Your actions be like my actions. Ditto.
That's a tougher one than just ordering up the prayers I want and naming Jesus as a kind of magic word at the end. Abracadabra... In Jesus' name! Instead, while I'm praying I'm supposed to check my motivations, survey my heart. What do these prayers say about me? If I'm growing into the name "Christian," do my desires reflect the Christ at the center of that name?
I want to grow up to resemble that name that I'm praying in.
I hope Jesus is proud that he offered it to me in the first place.