An act of intimacy – giving a name

By Dave Henning / June 18, 2019

“Our names are part of our wholeness.  To be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love.”- Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

“We get into trouble whenever we do not name things properly.”- Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

In Chapter 3 (“Name the Narrative”) of The Next Best Thing, Emily P. Freeman observes that naming christens us into life and releases new growth.  However, Emily wonders, is the opposite also true?  Is the life held back when we allow things to remain unnamed and unacknowledged?

Perhaps, Mrs. Freeman states, a particular decision you currently carry feels difficult because things beneath the surface remain unnamed within you.  You fail to acknowledge these things or would rather ignore them.  Or, you simply don’t have enough information or self-knowledge to proceed.

Therefore, if you find yourself struggling to discern your next right thing, maybe you’re stuck in an unnamed time of transition, waiting, or grief.  In addition, perhaps you’re mired in some type of trauma or loss.  As a result, Emily guides our response to people in the midst of difficult times.  She writes:

“As people who put their trust in Jesus, sometimes we don’t know what to say when we see someone going through an impossible time.  Instead of giving them space to name their own narratives, we rush them into a narrative that makes us feel more comfortable.  It can be easy to refuse to let people grieve by naming their circumstances for them. . . .  We would do well to create space for others to walk a little ways into that truth and begin to name their own narratives in time.”

Today’s question: How do you see giving a name as an act of intimacy?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Shades of gray along the way”

About the author

Dave Henning

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