"Could my husband and I have found another name -- a mashup, perhaps, or a reference to a shared experience or value -- that would have been better for us? Is there another name in our family trees with a rich tradition that might otherwise be forgotten? Maybe we would have ended up choosing Wattenberg regardless, but that mental journey would still have been worth taking."I love sharing my husband's name. It amuses me that my maiden name is so neatly contained within it (a symbol of our well-fitted personalities, perhaps?) but I also find a lot of pleasure in the fact that by becoming a Nielson, I share not only his future but his past. And I love how that new name has made me, quite literally, more than I ever was before. Who he is shines out between the spaces of who I am, and I grow toward that light.
I don’t want to belabor the point, as I’m sure you’ve grasped it already, but it deserves a brief mention that my identity as a Christian follows this same path. I don’t care if people want to classify "Mormons" as non-creedal, unorthodox, un-Trinitarian, whatever, but they can’t deny us the choice and burden of Christ’s name—that choice is uniquely ours to make. As a follower of Christ, I try to allow Christ’s good name to shine through and past my own, even as I continue to discover and refine who I am.
Anyway, I hope that whether my children, as adults, like these names we gave them or not, they will at least be able to see the beautiful symbolism of fusing old with new. Of (both for sons and daughters) blending their first name—and all it represents of their identity as an individual—with their last name, which speaks of both the old family in which they first saw beyond self, and the new family identity they will form when they voluntarily become more-than-self. Of how who we called them can be an anchor to who they really are. And most importantly, of how who they name themselves can be a pathway to who they want to be.