I have to admit,I have never been a really big fan of my name. Sara.
For a time, it seemed I was surrounded by Sara’s. I was forever responding to someone calling my name only to discover I wasn’t the Sara they were looking for. When I worked at the local grocery store in high school, we could have up to 5 Sara’s working at the same time. Our managers learned to use nicknames or last names if they wanted us to respond to a call to come up to the front lanes and help. When I worked at Target, a couple of days a week all four of the Sara’s who were team leads would happen to overlap shifts for a few hours. I stopped responding to calls on the walkie I had to carry unless they specifically called for “Bakery Sara.” And when I worked at camp for a summer, we had 3 Sara’s who were all counselors. Sara, it seemed, was a name everyone used in the late 70′s and early 80′s when they had a daughter. Nothing special.
Nobody can agree on how to spell it. When I was younger and, quit honestly, cared, I would cross out the “h” people insisted on putting on the end of my name. I would get extremely annoyed whenever someone would spell it incorrectly. I didn’t care how common the other spelling happened to be, I wanted the world to automatically know how I spelled my name.
And perhaps one of the biggest issues for me was the meaning of my name: Princess. I have never been what people would call a “girly girl.” I didn’t care for skirts and dresses. I didn’t care for the color pink. I made a rule for my mom that any clothing item with flowers of any sort on it wasn’t to be considered for my closet. To this day, I’m not really sure how to use eye liner or mascara. I believe you only really NEED 3 pairs of shoes – Black dress shoes, Brown dress shoes, and good, solid, tennis shoes. Pretty much, I have lived my life looking and being the near opposite of what you would stereotypically think of when you hear the word princess. And while I have been more than fine with this reality, knowing my name means princess has still annoyed me.
But lately, I have found it annoying me a little less. A month or so ago now, I found myself challenged to really look beyond the stereotype of a princess. The reality is that a princess is often a person who finds themselves in a position of great power and influence. Perhaps it isn’t direct power such as making laws or judgments, especially in today’s modern world, but their voice has the potential to carry a lot of authority.
Kate Middleton is a great, current example of what I am talking about. When she wears something new to an official function, the stores in London as sold out almost instantly. Everyone wants to dress like her. Girls all across the world look at her story and see their fairy-tale dreams coming true. To experience even a small part of that is worth the money for a dress, hat, bag, or pair of shoes. But, in my opinion, the greatest thing about Kate isn’t her fashion sense, it is the absence of “dragon lady” news stories. The words used to describe her have been ones like genuine, kind, down-to-earth, and practical. She hasn’t insisted on living in the castle. She hasn’t insisted on a huge staff of servants and maids. She has resisted, as much as possible, traveling with an entourage of stylists, dressers, and publicists. What she has asked for is respect for her privacy and respect for the boundaries she has set up for the media. And because of this, when she speaks it is with ever more authority and greeted with ever more respect. The causes she chooses to back, if chosen wisely, will be given much more consideration than they otherwise would have been.
You see, a princess is not about pink, lace, ruffles, and being dainty. It can be but it often, in reality, isn’t. It is a position of influence and to be well thought of and respected, you need a bit of wisdom so you use your influence correctly. It is a place of training, growing up, and learning because someday you will find yourself responsible to and for an awful lot of people. In reality and actuality, it is a position which requires a lot of inner strength, grace, wisdom, and patience.
This view of a princess is a view I can work with. It is a view which I can relate to. It gives me something to strive for and live up to. This view makes me feel as if perhaps I wasn’t named totally incorrectly after all. In seeing this view of a princess I can embrace my name without feeling like a total failure for not having a burning desire to go to the spa and get my nails done each week.
So what is in a name? Like it or not, the names we are given and those which we give ourselves do define us. What I am learning is not assume that my understanding of a name is the same as God’s understanding of a name.